Plenary Highlights

WMIC Virtual 2021 will feature world-class plenary speakers that are experts in their field. Nine plenary sessions are planned, one session for the 2021 Gold Medal Award winner and one lecture for the Roger Tsien Award winner.

Rebecca Fitzgerald, MD is Professor of Cancer Prevention and Interim Director at the MRC Cancer Unit, University of Cambridge. She co-leads the Early Detection Programme of the CRUK Cambridge Centre which is part of the International Alliance in Early Detection (ACED) and still practices medicine as Hon Consultant in Gastroenterology at Addenbrooke’s Hospital. The focus of her research group is to investigate the steps in malignant transformation in the oesophagus and stomach and to use this information to improve clinical early detection strategies. Her work to develop the Cytosponge and related biomarker assays for detection of Barrett’s oesophagus and associated dysplasia has been awarded a number of prizes including the Westminster Medal, the BMJ Gastro team of the year, an NHS Innovation prize and the CRUK Jane Wardle Early Detection Prize.  In 2013, she was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences. Rebecca is committed to teaching and is a Fellow of Medical Sciences at Trinity College Cambridge.

Sabra Klein, PhD is a Professor of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. She is an expert on sex and gender differences in immune responses and susceptibility to infection and currently has over 140 peer-reviewed publications, authored several book chapters, and edited two books on the broad topics of sex differences in response to infection and treatments for infectious diseases. During the 2009 influenza pandemic, she was commissioned by the WHO to evaluate and publish a report on the impact of sex, gender, and pregnancy on the outcome of influenza virus infection. During the current COVID-19 pandemic, Dr. Klein has written commentaries for several journals and been interviewed by several major news media outlets about male-biased disease outcomes. She is PI of the Johns Hopkins Specialized Center for Research Excellence (SCORE) in sex and age differences in immunity to influenza, MPI of the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Serology Center of Excellence, co-chair of the advisory board of the Johns Hopkins Building Interdisciplinary Research Careers in Women’s Health, member of the Advisory Committee on Research on Women’s Health at NIH, and co-director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Women’s Health, Sex, and Gender Research.

Yulong Li, PhD is a professor at the School of Life Sciences of Peking University (PKU), PKU-THU Center for Life Sciences, PKU-IDG/McGovern Institute for Brain Research, and Chinese Institute for Brain Research. He obtained his B.S. degree at PKU and Ph.D. at Duke University. He then conducted his postdoctoral research at Stanford University. After that, he started his own lab at the School of Life Sciences of PKU in 2012. His group’s research focuses on the “synapse”, the fundamental unit for the communication between neurons. They carry two layers of research: first, they develop cutting edge research tools, namely advanced genetically-encoded imaging probes, to untangle the complexity of the nervous system in space and in time; second, capitalizing on the advancement of research toolkits, they study the regulation of synaptic transmission, focusing on the modulation of various neuromodulators release. Recently, his group pioneered the development and application of new genetically-encoded fluorescent sensors that are capable to detect the release of dopamine, acetylcholine, norepinephrine, adenosine and serotonin with high spatial and temporal resolution in physiological and pathological conditions. His group currently are expanding this principle to develop sensors for the entire range of known neurotransmitters and neuromodulators.

Willem Mulder, PhD, a biomedical engineer with a background in chemistry, is Professor of Precision Medicine at the Radboud University Medical Center and the Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e), The Netherlands. Mulder obtained an M.Sc. in Chemistry from the Utrecht University (2001) and a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from TU/e (2006). He was professor and founding director of the Nanomedicine Lab at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York from 2006 to 2020.
Mulder’s research focus is on nano-immunotherapy and precision imaging in cardiovascular diseases, cancer, infectious diseases and transplantation. He pioneered the exploitation of nanomaterials as highly tunable immunotherapeutics. Mulder established proprietary technology encompassing nanomaterials devised from natural apolipoproteins named nanobiologics. Using modular nanobiologic functionalization approaches and through in vivo screening and immuno-imaging, his team meticulously builds precision immunotherapies. When appropriately designed, such nanobiologic immunotherapeutics can be applied to empower the immune system’s ability to fight disease by targeting myeloid cell dynamics, by promoting or inhibiting molecular programs that regulate immune responses, or by ‘training’ macrophage function.
Mulder has published more than 175 scientific publications in top scientific journals, including Science Translational Medicine, Nature Nanotechnology, Nature Reviews Drug Discovery, Nature Biomedical Engineering, Immunity and Cell. His H-index is 70 and his work has been cited nearly 15.000 times. Mulder was the principal investigator of multiple National Institutes of Health grants. In 2013, Mulder received a Vidi grant and in 2018 he was awarded a Vici grant, both from the Dutch Research Council (NWO).
Mulder is a Scientific Founder and Chief Scientific Officer of Trained Therapeutix Discovery, a biotech startup that aims to treat immune-mediated diseases with novel nanobiologic therapeutics.

Jennifer Prescher, PhD earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. She later received her PhD in Chemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, working with Prof. Carolyn Bertozzi on chemical methods to tag cell surface glycans with imaging probes.  Following her doctoral studies, she conducted postdoctoral research with Prof. Christopher Contag at Stanford University.  At Stanford, Dr. Prescher developed new methods to visualize subsets of tumorigenic cells in mouse models of cancer.  She joined the faculty at UC Irvine in 2010, where she is currently a Professor of Chemistry, Molecular Biology & Biochemistry, and Pharmaceutical Sciences.  Her laboratory focuses on the development of chemical tools and noninvasive imaging strategies to probe multi-cellular systems.

Jonathan M. Rothberg, PhD is a scientist and entrepreneur who was awarded the National Medal of Technology and Innovation, the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement, by President Obama for inventing and commercializing high-speed DNA sequencing. Dr. Rothberg is the founder of the 4Catalyzer medical technology incubator and the founder and Chairman of its companies: Butterfly Network, Hyperfine Research, Tesseract Health, Liminal Sciences, Detect, Quantum-Si, and AI Therapeutics. These companies focus on using inflection points in medicine, such as deep learning, next-generation sequencing, and the silicon supply chain, to address global healthcare challenges.
With one of his former companies, 454 Life Sciences, Dr. Rothberg brought to market the first new way to sequence genomes since Sanger and Gilbert won the Nobel Prize for their method in 1980. With 454’s technology, Dr. Rothberg sequenced the first individual human genome, and with Svante Paabo he initiated the first large-scale effort to sequence ancient DNA (The Neanderthal Genome Project). Prior to 454 Life Sciences, Dr. Rothberg founded and served as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of CuraGen Corporation from 1993 to 2004. His contributions to the field of genome sequencing include the first non-bacterial cloning method (cloning by limited dilution) and the first massively parallel DNA sequencing method (parallel sequencing by synthesis on a single substrate), concepts that have formed the basis for all subsequent next generation sequencing technologies. Dr. Rothberg is an Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year, is the recipient of The Wall Street Journal’s First Gold Medal for Innovation, SXSW Best in Show, Nature Methods First Method of the Year Award, the Connecticut Medal of Technology, the DGKL Biochemical Analysis Prize, and an Honorary Doctorate of Science from Mount Sinai. Dr. Rothberg is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, the Connecticut Academy of Science and Engineering, is a trustee of Carnegie Mellon University, and an Adjunct Professor of Genetics at Yale University. Dr. Rothberg received his Ph.D., M.Phil., and M.S. in biology from Yale University and his B.S. in chemical engineering from Carnegie Mellon University.

Thomas Meade, PhD was awarded the 2020 Gold Medal Award to Thomas J. Meade, PhD, at Northwestern University, for his renowned dedication to the molecular imaging community and revolutionary contributions to the field. Meade accepted the Gold Medal at the 13th annual World Molecular Imaging Congress (WMIC), October 7-9. The meeting was held virtually at His address in acceptance of the Medal has been postponed to the WMIC annual meeting in Miami, October 6-10 of 2021.
Currently Meade serves as the Eileen M. Foell Professor of Cancer Research and Professor of Chemistry, Molecular Biosciences, Neurobiology, Biomedical Engineering and Radiology at Northwestern University. He is also a member of the Chemistry of Life Processes Institute (CLP).
Meade is widely recognized as a pioneer in the field of conditionally activated magnetic resonance (MR) agents and the development of probes for MRI and optical imaging. In collaboration with the CLP, he designed the Center for Advanced Molecular Imaging to perform transdisciplinary research from molecule to whole animal. He is the former President and founding member of the Society of Molecular Imaging and founder of Imaging in 2020, a biannual conference focusing on all aspects of imaging. He currently holds over 100 patents and is the founder of companies.
Meade received his master’s in Biochemistry and PhD in inorganic chemistry. After completing a NIH fellowship in Radiology at Harvard Medical School, he was a postdoctoral fellow at the California Institute of Technology. In 1991, he joined the Division of Biology and the Beckman Institute at Caltech. In 2002, Meade moved to Northwestern University, where he is the Director of the Center for Advanced Molecular Imaging (CAMI).