Speakers 2019


Alicia Sanchez-Mazas, Professor, University of Geneva, Switzerland

Alicia Sanchez-Mazas (PhD in 1990) is full Professor and head of the Anthropology Unit of the Department of Genetics and Evolution at the University of Geneva, where she teaches and conducts research projects on human populations’ genetic diversity, with a special focus on the genes of the major histocompatibility complex HLA in relation to the peopling history of modern humans worldwide. Since 1996 she coordinates HLA population data analyses at the International Histocompatibility and Immunogenetics Workshops (IHIWS) where she was nominated Councillor in 2008. In 2009-2012 she chaired the EU-funded HLA-NET COST Action that set up the hla-net.eu bioinformatics platform. Since 2013 she leads the Population Genetics Working Group of the European Federation for Immunogenetics (EFI) which organises regular Open Meetings at EFI Conferences, and since 2015 she is Section Editor for the journal “HLA – Immune Response Genetics” (John Wiley & Sons A/S). She currently leads the Population Genetics, Anthropology and Evolution Component of the 18th IHIW Workshop that will be held in Amsterdam in 2021. During the last years, she extended her research interests to the molecular evolution of HLA genes in relation to environmental factors and human diseases. Her publication record counts more than a hundred peer-reviewed articles. She also co-edited two books (Routledge) on the peopling of East Asia and one special volume (Human Heredity) on the genetic diversity of European populations. Her current research project focuses on the HLA molecular diversity of African populations in relation to African peopling history and associations to infectious diseases.


Jamie Rossjohn, FAA FAHMS FLSW FMedSci, Australian Research Council (ARC) Laureate Fellow

Professor Rossjohn’s research is centred on understanding the processes that control infection and immunity, specifically host recognition, responses developed by the pathogen and therapeutic development to modulate and/or counteract these events.

He is currently an ARC Australian Laureate Fellow (2017-2021) and was previously a NHMRC Australia Fellow (2011-2016) and ARC Federation Fellow (2007-11). He is the Head of the Infection and Immunity Program of the Biomedicine Discovery Institute at Monash university.

Professor Rossjohn is known for his contributions to the understanding the molecular basis underpinning immunity. He has used structural biology to explain pre-T-cell receptor (TCR) self-association in T-cell development, and how the TCR specifically recognises polymorphic Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) molecules in the context of viral immunity and aberrant T-cell reactivity. He has unearthed structural mechanisms of HLA polymorphism impacting on drug and food hypersensitivities, as well as Natural Killer cell receptor recognition. He has pioneered our molecular understanding of lipid-based immunity by T cells, revealing that it can differ fundamentally from peptide-mediated adaptive immunity. Recently he has provided a structural basis of how vitamin B metabolites can be presented and recognised by the immune system, revealing a new class of antigen. Collectively, he has published more than 365 papers and mentored numerous researchers towards obtaining higher degrees and nationally competitive fellowships.

Jonathan Barratt]

Jonathan Barratt, The Mayer Professor of Renal Medicine & Honorary Consultant Nephrologist, University of Leicester

Professor Jonathan Barratt leads the Renal Research Group within the College of Life Sciences, University of Leicester and supervises a 20 strong laboratory and clinical research team comprising 4 postdoctoral scientists, a non-Clinical Lecturer, a NIHR Clinical Lecturer, NIHR Academic Clinical Fellow, 2 technicians, 4 PhD students, a research manager, 6 research nurses and 5 research associates. In the past 5 years he has been awarded £4.2M of funding as PI for research in the pathogenesis of IgA nephropathy and generated £1M of income from clinical studies. JB is the IgA nephropathy Rare Disease Group lead for the UK National Registry of Rare Kidney Diseases (RaDaR) and a member of the steering committee for the International IgA Nephropathy Network. He works closely with a number of pharmaceutical companies interested in new treatments for IgA nephropathy. He is Chief Investigator for a number of international randomised controlled clinical trials in IgA nephropathy, has attended both the FDA and EMA as an advisor for new therapies in IgA nephropathy, and is a member of the FDA and American Society of Nephrology Kidney Health Initiative: Identifying Surrogate Endpoints for Clinical Trials in IgA Nephropathy Workgroup.