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Speaker Bios

Dr. Chris Davies is a research associate professor in the Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences at Utah State University, director of the university’s Center for Integrated BioSystems, and the associate director of the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station. He earned both his veterinary degree and a Ph.D. in immunogenetics from Cornell University. Dr. Davies received the J. Christian Herr Award from the American Society for Reproductive Immunology in 2006 and was invited to present the 2009 Dr. Raymond O. Berry Memorial Lecture at Texas A&M University. Dr. Davies is an expert in the genetics of the major histocompatibility complex and reproductive immunology in domestic animals. His laboratory studies gene expression and immunoregulation at the maternal-fetal interface in ruminants, and is involved in the development and characterization of transgenic large animal models for biomedical research.
Laura R. Epstein J.D. is currently senior policy advisor in the Office of the Center Director at FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine. In this role she provides policy advice on a range of issues concerning animal drugs and foods with a concentration on issues involving animal biotechnology, including advising on statutory authority for regulation of products derived from animal biotechnology. Previously, she was senior policy counsel in the Office of Science in FDA’s Center for Tobacco Products, and she was senior counsel in the FDA Office of Chief Counsel where she provided legal counsel on issues involving medical devices and veterinary medicine, including animal biotechnology.
Dr. Yinan Kan graduated from the Eric Hendrickson Lab at the University of Minnesota in 2015. He systematically dissected the mechanisms of homology-directed genome editing with different donors. He then moved on to the George Church lab at Harvard Medical School and became the Principle Scientist of eGenesis. He and his colleagues are devoted to delivering safe and effective human transplantable organs from porcine origin using the latest genome editing technologies. They generated the first PERV-inactivated pigs which was highlighted as the cover story in Science in 2017.
Dr. Michael M. Lohuis is vice-president of research and innovation for Semex Alliance (Guelph, Ontario, Canada) a global dairy and beef breeding cooperative with sales of genetic products and services worldwide. Semex actively utilizes genetic, genomic and reproductive technologies to accelerate genetic progress for production, health and economic traits in cattle. From 1998-2017, Dr. Lohuis worked at Monsanto company (St. Louis, MO) leading a range of R&D programs in animal and plant genetics and genomics, statistics, patent science and environmental and climate change modeling. Prior to joining Monsanto, Dr. Lohuis was an assistant professor in the Animal Breeding Department, University of Guelph, Ontario, Canada. He obtained his Ph.D. in animal breeding and B.Sc. in animal science at the University of Guelph. Dr. Lohuis began his career in the Canadian dairy cattle breeding industry as a bull procurement expert and research coordinator of advance reproductive technology trials.
Dr. Heather Lombardi leads the newly formed Animal Bioengineering and Cellular Therapies Team in the Office of New Animal Drug Evaluation at the Food and Drug Administration's Center for Veterinary Medicine (CVM). She previously served as a master reviewer with expertise in the review of innovative products such as proteins, peptides, and cell-based products in the Division of Manufacturing Technologies at CVM. Dr. Lombardi joined CVM in 2008, and throughout her tenure has participated in many efforts by the Center to bring innovative new animal drugs to market in a more predictable and seamless fashion, such as the Innovation Exploration Team (IVET), and numerous technology teams and working groups. She has led efforts to provide guidance and policy to stakeholders specific to the regulation of new technologies. Dr. Lombardi holds a Ph.D. in biological chemistry from the University of Pennsylvania and a B.S. in chemistry (biochemistry track) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Dr. Nick Manson is a program manager, strategist, business intelligence and knowledge specialist. Nick has a broad background in the health sector working with public and non-governmental organizations in a board-level management, specialist or consultative capacity. He has worked internationally and at local, regional and national levels. Originally working in developing countries, Nick acquired experience of child health, program evaluation and relief planning. He has held senior positions in health services in the UK, Australia and New Zealand and undertaken consultancies in many countries. He is an experienced strategist, communicator and facilitator, and has degrees in biochemistry, public health nutrition, computer science and a PhD in health services strategy.
Dr. Samantha Noll is an assistant professor in The School of Politics, Philosophy, and Public Affairs at Washington State University and is affiliated with the Functional Genomics Initiative. Her research contributes to the fields of bioethics (ethics of biotechnology), philosophy of food, and environmental philosophy. She has published widely on topics such as how values impact consumer uptake of agricultural products, local food movements, and the application of genomics technology.
Dr. Irina Polejaeva earned her Ph.D. in developmental biology from the National Institute of Animal Science, Moscow, Russia. She is currently a professor in the Department of Animal, Dairy and Veterinary Sciences at Utah State University and a member of Utah Multidisciplinary Arrhythmia Consortium. Dr. Polejaeva is also a member of the Veterinary Diagnostics and Infectious Disease USTAR program. She served for 8 years as chief scientific officer at ViaGen Inc., led the Cell Biology Group and was project manager for the Porcine Nuclear Transfer Program at PPL Therapeutics Inc. Her work led to generation of the world's first cloned pigs by somatic cell nuclear transfer and the birth of the world's first 1, 3-galactosyltransferase deficient pigs. Her primary emphasis is development of genetically engineered large animal models for biomedical research.
Dr. Pablo Ross specializes in animal reproduction, with emphasis on gametes, early embryos and embryonic stem cells. The focus is on epigenetic mechanisms that regulate the acquisition of pluripotency and the impact of assisted reproductive technologies (ART) on these mechanisms. His lab uses a comparative approach which includes different species (cattle, sheep, pig, horses, mice, monkeys, humans), different models of ART and varied models of nuclear reprogramming, and uses next-generation sequencing approaches to determine transcriptome and epigenetic profiles. The lab generates epigenetic data from multiple tissues from large animals to aid efforts to annotate the functional regions of animal genomes and, for mechanistic studies, routinely microinject siRNA and CRISPR/Cas9 into oocytes and zygotes to then study consequences of gene knockdown/knockout on embryonic development. Dr. Ross is an associate professor in the College of Biological Sciences at University of California – Davis and on the executive committee of the Genome Editing for Enhanced Animal Production project. He earned his DVM degree at La Plata National University, MS in animal science at Mar del Plata National University, and Ph.D. in animal science at Michigan State University.
Dr. Chris Rogers is the Chief Scientific Officer and co-founder of Exemplar Genetics. He received his Ph.D. in pharmacology from Vanderbilt University focusing on gene therapy. He then completed post-doctoral training at the University of Iowa where he and colleagues created the first knockout and knockin models of a human disease in a large animal species - cystic fibrosis in pigs. This work led to the founding of Exemplar Genetics in 2008. The company is focused on the development and characterization of large animal models of human disease and providing housing, husbandry, and logistical support for research using these models. At Exemplar Genetics, Dr. Rogers has generated models of cardiovascular disease, cancer, cardiac arrhythmia, muscular dystrophy, several neurological and neurodegenerative diseases, and polycystic kidney disease, among many others. Exemplar Genetics was acquired by Intrexon in 2015.
Dr. Tad Sonstegard is currently chief scientific officer of Acceligen, a Recombinetics company, where he leads both business development and research efforts dedicated to discovery of causative sequence variants in food animals. The goal is to apply genome editing for livestock genetic improvement that promotes sustainability and animal welfare. Previously at the USDA-ARS Beltsville, he led a genomics research program developing applications in germplasm conservation and genetic improvement that included the first commercially successful, ag-based SNP tool. He also identified causative variation affecting fertility and thermo-tolerance in cattle and has led consortia to generate genome assemblies of the water buffalo, goat, Zebu cattle, and an expression atlas of cattle. Dr. Sonstegard received his undergraduate degree from Iowa State University and his Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota. His has published 191 peer-reviewed articles and has received award recognition for his work in genomic research for livestock genetic improvement.
Dr. Eddie Sullivan is president, CEO and co-founder of SAB Biotherapeautics and SAB Capra. He actively works with the technical staff to develop innovative products using the DiversitAb™ Platform. He has formed partnerships around the world to promote the development of life-saving therapeutics. SAB Capra recently received NIH funding to advance its immunotherapy platform to target pandemic influenza. Dr. Sullivan has more than 15 years of industry leadership experience, including as president of a subsidiary of Kyowa Hakko Kirin, a Japanese pharmaceutical company, where he led development of infectious disease, cancer and autoimmune therapeutics. He serves on the executive committee of the Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) in Washington D.C. He is founder and past-president of South Dakota Biotech, was appointed by the governor to the state’s Research Commercialization Council, and chairs South Dakota National Science Foundation EPSCoR. Dr. Sullivan holds degrees from the University of Arizona, Brigham Young University, Kennedy-Western University, and Utah State University in both reproduction and business.
Dr. Bhanu Telugu is an assistant professor at University of Maryland-College Park, and a "visiting scientist" in the Animal Bioscience and Biotechnology Laboratory at USDA, ARS, Beltsville, MD. Dr. Telugu is also a founding member, president & CEO of RenOVAte Biosciences Inc., a livestock genetic engineering company. Primary research interests of his laboratory and his company are genetic engineering/biotechnology and reproductive biology. The laboratory employs genome editing tools such as CRISPRs for site-specifically altering the genome in large animal models such as pig for agricultural and biomedical applications. Specifically, genome editing tools are employed to alter alleles to facilitate "rational selection" of agricultural traits. The laboratory is actively engaged in developing porcine models of human disease (diabetes, cardiovascular disease and obesity), and developing technologies for transplantation research where pig is a preferred animal model. For more detailed information, please contact the PI: btelugu@umd.edu or renovatebiosciences@gmail.com .
Dr. Kenneth L. White has been a faculty member in the Department of Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences at Utah State University since 1991 and was previously a faculty member at Louisiana State University. He was appointed vice president for USU Extension, dean of the College of Agriculture and Applied Sciences, and director of the Utah Agricultural Experiment Station at Utah State University July 1, 2013, following a national search. He received his Bachelor of Science degree in animal science from Brigham Young University in 1979, and his master's degree in animal science and Ph.D. in physiology from the University of California-Davis, in 1982 and 1986, respectively. He has generated over $15 million in extramural funding to support research in animal reproduction and embryonic development. In 2006, he was recognized as the USU's Researcher of the Year, and in 2013, Dr. White received the Utah Governor's Medal for Science and Technology in Academics in recognition of his research program and efforts to establish a School of Veterinary Medicine in Utah. He has published over 100 peer-reviewed scientific articles in journals such as Science, Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, Biology of Reproduction, and Cloning and Stem Cells. He led the nuclear transfer team that produced the world's first cloned equines, which resulted in the birth of three identical mule foals.
Dr. Bruce Whitelaw was awarded a BSc degree in medical microbiology (virology elective) from the University of Edinburgh in 1982 and his PhD in 1987 from the University of Glasgow. His career has been dedicated to the development and application of gene expression systems in genetically engineered animals. Bruce is currently deputy director (Partnerships) at The Roslin Institute where holds the Genus Chair in Animal Biotechnology. Building from early work in transgenic livestock as bioreactors of human biomedical proteins in milk, Bruce has pioneered the use of lentivirus vectors for transgene delivery and more recently genome editors for precise genetic engineering of livestock. He seeks to apply this technology in the field of animal biotechnology, specifically to develop novel ways to combat infectious disease in animals, evaluate strategies to enhance overall reproductive efficiency, devise novel protein production systems and explore opportunities to develop new treatments of disease through appropriate genetically engineered animal models. His interest and expertise in animal biotechnology includes the development of innovative in vitro driven assisted reproductive technologies. Bruce is a member of the BBVA Foundation's Frontiers of Science Award in Biomedicine Jury; is on the Scientific Advisory Board of Roslin Technologies Ltd, Immunogenes Ag and Recombinetics Inc; is chairman of Edinburgh Genomics, a director on the Board of Edinburgh Research and Innovation (a University of Edinburgh subsidiary) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Biology.
Dr. Tom Wishart gained his Ph.D. in molecular and cellular neuroscience in 2006 and has since contributed to >50 manuscripts. His research focused on developing methods to identify factors regulating the stability of the nervous system in health and disease. This was primarily through a combination of anatomically dictated molecular analyses of differentially vulnerable neuronal populations. In 2011 he took up a junior group leader position at the Roslin Institute, which drove his research to include comparisons across a diverse array of model systems and to develop the capability to move seamlessly between pathological assessment and molecular analysis of mammalian (including but not limited to murine, ovine & equine) neuronal systems, through to in silico identification of potential regulatory cascades, and lower order model-based in vivo assessment of candidate ability to modulate neuronal morphology and/or stability. His group’s multi-species comparative approaches have been published as recommended workflows for novel therapeutic target identification. Tom was promoted to Reader in Molecular Anatomy in 2017 and is the co-head of Translational Biomarker discovery for the Centre of Dementia Prevention.
Dr. Jianguo Zhao received his Ph.D. in animal genetics and breeding (2003) from Northeast Agricultural University and attended the Institute of Medical Genetics at Shanghai Jiaotong University as an assistant researcher from 2003-2005. He had postdoctoral training at the University of New Orleans (2005-2007), after which, he worked at the University of Missouri-Columbia/National Swine Research and Resource Center as a research assistant professor from 2007-2010. He joined the State Key Laboratory of Reproductive Biology at the Institute of Zoology, CAS, as a principle investigator and group leader of "Genetic modifications in large animals," supported by CAS "100 Talents" Program in 2010. His research has focused on making genetic modifications in pigs for improvement of pig economic traits and biomedical research by two strategies: 1. Mutagenesis by ENU; 2. Somatic Cell Nuclear Transfer (SCNT) combined with transgenic/gene targeting.