Keynote Speakers



Chris Contag
Peter Mueller
Theodore W. Berger

Christopher H. Contag
James and Kathleen Cornelius Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering
Michigan State University

Peter Mueller
IBM Zurich Research Laboratory

Theodore W. Berger
David Packard Professor of Engineering
University of Southern California





Keynote 1: Cell to Cell Data Transfer via Exosomes as “Nanoparcels” of Molecular Information
Chris Contag

Christopher H. Contag

James and Kathleen Cornelius Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering
Professor of Microbiology & Molecular Genetics
Director, Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824, USA

Mammalian cells secrete several types of extracellular vesicles (EVs) including exosomes, microvesicles, and apoptotic bodies, and each EV type differs in biogenesis, composition, and function. EVs are an information rich, but perhaps primitive, means of cellular communication that can transfer a range of macromolecules to recipient cells. EVs from normal and cancerous cells play roles in biological processes that range from surface-membrane trafficking to horizontal transfer of macromolecules among neighboring or distant cells and are becoming important diagnostic and prognostic tools. Molecular profiling of various EV types has been performed to determine whether EVs derived from normal and cancerous cells exhibit unique molecular signatures that differentially modulate cellular functions. EV as a means of cellular communication appears, at present, to be a somewhat indiscriminate lacking the specificity that characterizes receptor-mediated signaling observed for other means of cellular communication such as by hormones, cytokines, and chemokines. However, their stability, high information content, range of influence, and potential to cross biological barriers make EVs potential tools to be engineered for modulating cellular functions, targeting therapy and controlling tissue regeneration in the living body.

Short Biography

Dr. Contag recently joined Michigan State University in 2017 as the founding director of the Institute for Quantitative Health Science and Engineering (IQ) and the inaugural chair of the new Department of Biomedical Engineering in the College of Engineering. Dr. Contag received his B.S. in Biology from the University of Minnesota, St. Paul in 1982. He received his Ph.D. in Microbiology from the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis in 1988, where he did his dissertation research on the topic of viral infections of the central nervous system. He was a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University from 1990-1994 in the Department of Microbiology where he studied mother-to-infant transmission of HIV, and then joined the faculty in Pediatrics at Stanford in 1995 with a joint appointment in Microbiology and Immunology and courtesy appointments in Bioengineering and Radiology. Dr. Contag served as the Associate Chief of the Division of Neonatal and Developmental Medicine, the director of Stanford’s Center for Innovation in In Vivo Imaging (SCI3) and co-director of both the Molecular Imaging Program at Stanford (MIPS) and Child Health Research Institute (CHRI) at Stanford University. Dr. Contag has developed and used noninvasive imaging approaches to reveal molecular processes in living subjects and to advance diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for cancer. His work with extracellular vesicles (EVs), exosomes and microvessicles, has focused on their biological and diagnostic relevance as well as engineering EVs as drug delivery systems. Dr. Contag is a founding member, and past president of the Society for Molecular Imaging (now part of WMIS) and recent past president and a Fellow of WMIS. For his fundamental contributions in the field of molecular imaging, he was awarded the Achievement Award from the Society for the Molecular Imaging. For his fundamental contributions to the field of optics he was awarded the Britton Chance Award from the International Society for Optics and Photonics (SPIE). Dr. Contag was a founder of Xenogen Corp., now part of PerkinElmer, a company with the mission of commercializing in vivo bioluminescence and fluorescence imaging, and is a founder of BioEclipse Inc., a company aimed at improving cancer immunotherapy, and a founder of PixelGear, a point-of-care pathology company.



Keynote 2: Quantum Computing based on Superconducting Qubits Technology
Peter Mueller

Peter Mueller

IBM Zurich Research Laboratory
Rueschlikon, Switzerland

The newly upcoming quantum computing technologies are expected to outperform conventional computers in a growing number of applications, such as the computing of energy spectra or the dynamics of molecular or condensed matter systems. This talk will explain superconducting qubit technology as we apply it in IBM. Some of the recently recognized challenges at qubit level regarding system architecture and the overall eco-system will be outlined. Further, the integration of quantum computers into our computing environment to form a co-existing quantum-classical system will be reported. I will show developments towards useful quantum applications with potential advantage when running them on small sized quantum computing hardware. Such methods may enhance the efficiency of variational methods for quantum chemistry or optimization tasks with the prospect of carrying out scientifically and commercially relevant computations in the near future.

Short Biography

Peter Mueller joined IBM Research as a research staff member in 1988. His research expertise covers broad areas of computing systems architecture, microwave technology, device physics, nano science and modeling. His current field of research is in the areas of quantum technology and data center storage security. Peter is a co-founder of the IEEE ComSoc Communications and Information Systems Security Technical Committee (CIS-TC) and the emerging sub-committee on Quantum Communications and Information Technology (QCIT). In the course of his carrier he authored and co-authored more than 100 papers, 2 books, granted 25 patents and served as guest editor for many special issue publications. He also served as a government counsel and as organizer for international conferences and workshops, such as the IEEE International Conference on Communications, IEEE Globecom, IEEE Symposium on Systems and Information Security, International Wireless Communications and Mobile Computing Conference, WirelessCom, or the Electro and Information Technology Conference. In 2017 Peter got awarded by the Hungarian Scientific Association for Infocommunications with the Puskas Tivadar Medal for his contributions in the field. His affiliations include active society membership in IEEE; the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM); the Electrochemical Society (ECS); and the Swiss Physical Society (SPS).



Keynote 3: A Brain-Implantable Neural Prosthesis to Enhance Damaged Human Memory
Theodore W. Berger

Theodore W. Berger

David Packard Professor of Engineering
Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Neuroscience
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA, USA

Dr. Berger leads a multi-disciplinary collaboration that includes the University of Southern California, the City University of Hong Kong, Wake Forest University, and the University of Kentucky, and that is developing a microchip-based neural prosthesis for the hippocampus, a region of the brain responsible for long-term memory. Damage to the hippocampus is frequently associated with epilepsy, stroke, and dementia (Alzheimer's Disease), and is considered to underlie the memory deficits characteristic of these neurological conditions. The essential goals of Dr. Berger's multi-laboratory effort include: (1) experimental study of neuron and neural network function during memory formation -- how does the hippocampus encode information?, (2) formulation of biologically realistic models of neural system dynamics -- can that encoding process be described mathematically to realize a predictive model of how the hippocampus responds to any event?, (3) microchip implementation of neural system models -- can the mathematical model be realized as a set of electronic circuits to achieve parallel processing, rapid computational speed, and miniaturization?, and (4) creation of conformal neuron-electrode interfaces -- can cytoarchitectonic-appropriate multi-electrode arrays be created to optimize bi-directional communication with the brain? By integrating solutions to these component problems, the team is realizing a biomimetic model of hippocampal nonlinear dynamics that can perform the same function as part of the hippocampus. Through bi-directional communication with other neural tissue that normally provides the inputs and outputs to/from a damaged hippocampal area, the biomimetic model can serve as a neural prosthesis. A proof-of-concept is presented using rats and monkeys that have been chronically implanted with recording/stimulation micro-electrodes throughout multiple regions of the CA3 and CA1 hippocampus, and that have been trained using delayed (non) match-to-sample tasks. After animals are well-trained, hippocampal function is blocked pharmacologically, and then in the presence of that blockade, hippocampal memory function is restored by a multi-input, multi-output model of hippocampal nonlinear dynamics that interacts bi-directionally with the in vivo hippocampus. The model is used to predict output of the CA1 hippocampus in the form of spatio-temporal patterns of neural activity representing hippocampal ''memory codes''; electrical stimulation of CA1 cells is used to “drive” the output of hippocampus to the desired state (predicted memory code). Using the same procedures in implanted animals with intact, normally functioning hippocampi substantially enhances memory strength and thus, learned behavior is improved. Most recently, the team has extended this approach to humans, with recordings from hippocampus of epilepsy patients during memory tasks, and highly successful predictive models. These latest results show for the first time that it is possible to create “hybrid electronic-biological” systems that mimic physiological properties of the human brain, and thus, biomimetic systems that may be used as neural prostheses to restore damaged brain regions – even those regions that underlie cognitive function.

Short Biography

Dr. Theodore W. Berger is the David Packard Professor of Engineering, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Neuroscience, and Director of the Center for Neural Engineering at the University of Southern California. Dr. Berger's research uses an integrated experimental and theoretical approach to develop biologically realistic nonlinear models of the nervous system, and is leading to neural prosthetic devices intended to replace damaged brain regions. Dr. Berger received his Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1976; his thesis work received the James McKeen Cattell Award from the New York Academy of Sciences. He conducted postdoctoral research at the University of California, Irvine from 1977-1978, and was an Alfred P. Sloan Foundation Fellow at The Salk Institute from 1978-1979. Dr. Berger joined the Departments of Neuroscience and Psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh in 1979, being promoted through to Full Professor in 1987. During that time, he received a McKnight Foundation Scholar Award, twice received an NIMH Research Scientist Development Award, and was elected a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Since 1992, he has been Professor of Biomedical Engineering and Neuroscience at the University of Southern California, and was appointed the David Packard Chair of Engineering in 2003. While at USC, Dr. Berger has received an NIMH Senior Scientist Award, was given the Lockheed Senior Research Award in 1997, and was elected a Fellow of the American Institute for Medical and Biological Engineering in 1998. Dr. Berger also received a Person of the Year ''Impact Award'' from the AARP in 2004 for his work on neural prostheses, was a National Academy of Sciences International Scientist Lecturer in 2003, and an IEEE Distinguished Lecturer in 2004-2005. Dr. Berger was elected a Senior Member of the IEEE in 2005, received a “Great Minds, Great Ideas” award from the EE Times in the same year, and in 2006 was awarded the USC Associates Award for Creativity in Research and Scholarship. Dr. Berger was elected a Fellow of the IEEE in 2010, received the EMBS Academic Career Achievement Award in 2013, and his work was chosen as one of the ''10 Breakthrough Technologies'' of 2013 by the MIT Technology Review. Most recently, Dr. Berger was chosen as one of the ''100 Global Thinkers of the Year'' by Foreign Policy, was given the ''Pioneer in Medicine Award'' by the Society for Brain Mapping and Therapeutics in 2016, and also in 2016 received the Australian Medical Society Medal for Medical Research. He has published over 500 journal articles, conference proceedings, and book chapters, and is the co-editor of Toward Replacement Parts for the Brain: Implantable Biomimetic Electronics as Neural Prostheses published by the MIT Press in 2005, as well as the lead co-editor of Brain-Computer Interfaces published in 2008 by Springer. Dr. Berger's research continues to be supported by DARPA, ONR, NSF, NIBIB and NINDS. Translation of some of Dr. Berger’s research has led to commercialization efforts through start-up companies: Safety Dynamics, Inc., Rhenovia Pharma, Inc., Neuralgenix, LLC, and KERNEL LLC.

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