Speakers at ESCAIDE 2021

Plenary A: Communicating science and scientific uncertainty during an evolving pandemic

Invited keynote speaker: Peter Piot

Peter Piot

Handa Professor of Global Health and Special Advisor on COVID-19 to the President of the European Commission

Peter Piot MD PhD is the Handa Professor of Global Health and former Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (2010-2021). He is currently Special Advisor on COVID-19 to the President of the European Commission, and a visiting professor at the Rega Institute, KULeuven, Belgium, and the National University of Singapore.

He was the founding Executive Director of UNAIDS and Under Secretary-General of the United Nations (1995-2008).

A clinician and microbiologist by training, he co-discovered the Ebola virus in Zaire in 1976, and subsequently led pioneering research on HIV/AIDS, women’s health and infectious diseases in Africa. He has held academic positions at the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp; the University of Nairobi; the University of Washington, Seattle; Imperial College London, and the College de France, Paris, and was a Senior Fellow at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He is a member of the US National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Medicine of France, the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, and the Royal Academy of Medicine of his native Belgium, and is a fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal College of Physicians.

He is the Chair of the King Baudouin Foundation USA, New York, Vice-Chair of the Global Health Innovation Technology Fund, Tokyo, and member of the Board of the Novartis Foundation, Basel, and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovation, and past President of the International AIDS Society. 

In 1995 he was made a Baron by King Albert II of Belgium, and in 2016 was awarded an honorary knighthood KCMG in the UK, and in 2018 received the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun in Japan. Professor Piot has received numerous awards for his research and service, including the Canada Gairdner Global Health Award (2015), the Robert Koch Gold Medal (2015), the Prince Mahidol Award for Public Health (2014), the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize for Medical Research (2013), and the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights, (2001), and was named a 2014 TIME Person of the Year (The Ebola Fighters). He has published over 600 scientific articles and 16 books, including his memoir, No Time to Lose, translated into 5 languages.

Invited speaker: Marta Hugas

Marta Hugas

Chief Scientist | European Food Safety Authority (EFSA)

Dr Marta Hugas is serving as Chief Scientist at the European Food Safety Authority. EFSA is a decentralized agency of the EU with a scope on risk assessment and risk communication on food and feed safety from the farm to fork. Marta holds a BSc in biological sciences, an MSc in genetics and microbial biotechnology and a PhD in food microbiology. Marta had a 20 year career on food safety applied research before joining EFSA in 2003. She has extensively published papers and book chapters. Since she joined EFSA in 2003, she’s served in different position, mainly on risk assessment of biological hazards and contaminants as well as Head of the Risk assessment and Scientific Assistance Department. As Chief Scientist, she´s currently leading the reflections on EFSA’s role regarding the sustainability of the food production systems from the safety assessment perspective as well as the possible uptake of scientific developments (microbiome, artificial intelligence, new genomic techniques etc) in EFSA's regulatory processes.

Recently she was appointed by the UN secretary general to the Scientific Group for the preparation of the 2021 UN summit on Food Systems as a co-coordinator of Action Track 2, Shifting to sustainable consumption habits.

Invited speaker: Mirjam Jenny

Mirjam Jenny

Harding Center for Risk Literacy

I am a cognitive decision scientist, science communicator, and networker. My goal is to empower individuals and organizations to make evidence–informed, risk savvy, and sustainable decisions in our globalized and increasingly digitalized world. I aim to serve our democratic society by engaging with citizens, journalists, expert decision–makers, research organizations, funders, government organizations, private and public stakeholders, and policymakers. My areas of focus are health, crisis communication, transparent and accountable AI, and research and education. I currently run the science communication unit at the Robert Koch-Institute, Germany's National Public Health Institute, and support the WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin. I am also still closely affiliated with the Harding Center for Risk Literacy at the University of Potsdam, which I directed until recently.

Invited speaker: Vera Novais

Vera Novais

Science journalist | Observador

Vera Novais is a science journalist in Portugal. She’s a staff writer for Observador and a freelancer for international news media. Vera writes about several topics in science but usually works on life sciences, health, astrophysics and scientific policy. Her favourite assignments are related to debunking misinformation about science, health and nutrition. Vera Novais is the President of the Portuguese science communication association SciComPt, is a member of the International Science Writers Association, and often collaborates with the World Federation of Science Journalists. Vera sees as her mission to help fellow science journalists and to contribute to the improvement of science journalism and science communication.

Plenary B: Modelling epidemics in real time: coming of age?

Invited speaker: Vittoria Colizza

Vittoria Colizza

Head of Research | INSERM & Sorbonne Université

Vittoria Colizza is Head of Research at INSERM (French National Institute for Health and Medical Research) & Sorbonne Université, working in the Pierre Louis Institute of Epidemiology and Public Health where she leads the EPIcx lab (Epidemics in complex environments, www.epicx-lab.com). Through modeling, her research spans a wide array of issues on epidemic and pandemic risks, accounting for the role of social contact networks and mobility, and the interaction between population behavior and contagion dynamics. Integrating data from sensors and digital surveillance, her work provides actionable insights for the management of epidemic and pandemic crises. Since January 2020 she has been active in the response against COVID-19 pandemic, advising French governmental bodies and health agencies, and international authorities. For her work on the pandemic, in 2020 she received her knighthood of the Order of Merit of the Italian Republic by the Italian President, the highest-ranking honor of the Italian Republic.

Trained as a physicist (PhD in Statistical and Biological Physics in 2004 at the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy), she worked at Indiana University (US, 2004-2007) in the School of Informatics as post-doc and visiting Assistant Professor, and joined ISI Foundation (Turin, Italy, 2007-2010) after being awarded an ERC Starting Grant in Life Sciences in 2007. In 2011 Colizza joined INSERM in Paris, and was promoted Head of research in 2017. Since 2020, she is Visiting Professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology in Japan.

Invited speaker: Jacco Wallinga

J. (Jacco) Wallinga

Head of Unit | Infectious Disease Modelling | National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM)

Prof. Dr. Doctor. J (Jacco) Wallinga heads the unit for Infectious Disease Modelling at the RIVM, and he holds the chair in Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases at the department of Biomedical Data Sciences of the Leiden University Medical Center.

Jacco Wallinga graduated from Wageningen University in 1992, and obtained his doctoral degree at the same university in 1998. Since 1997, he analysed dynamics of infectious diseases at RIVMNational Institute for Public Health and the Environment. He became head of the RIVM department of Modelling of Infectious Diseases in 2005. He published over 150 articles in international peer-reviewed scientific journals and is a member of the editorial board of Epidemiology. He advises the Dutch government and international organizations on vaccination policies.

He is interested in understanding and predicting the impact of directed control measures on infection dynamics. In recent years, his research has been focused on three themes: real-time estimation of key epidemiological variables of infectious disease outbreaks, characterization of contact networks using information on social contact data, and using epidemic models to interpret molecular sequence data of pathogens.

Jacco Wallinga holds the chair in Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases at the department of Biomedical Data Sciences of the Leiden University Medical Center (LUMC). As an extraordinary Professor, he works on the estimation and prediction of control measures on the dynamics of infectious diseases.

Invited speaker: Niel Hens

Niel Hens

Chair of evidence-based vaccinology | University of Antwerp

Niel Hens received a master degree in mathematics (1999) from KU Leuven and a master of science and PhD degree in biostatistics (2005) from Hasselt University. Since 2009 he is holder of the chair of evidence-based vaccinology at the University of Antwerp. He published work at the intersection between statistics and mathematical epidemiology focussing on semi-and non-parametric methods for handling missing data in his PhD work and after mainly focussing on bridging the gap between mathematical and statistical methods in infectious disease epidemiology. Next to biostatistics, Niel Hens teaches courses on computational biology and mathematical epidemiology to master of statistics and master of epidemiology students both in Antwerp and Hasselt. He is frequently consulted by federal and Flemish authorities especially for health-related topics.

Plenary C: Digital health opportunities for Public Health: how far from reality?

Invited speaker: Ran Balicer

Ran Balicer

Public health physician and researcher | Clalit Research Institute

Ran D. Balicer, a public health physician and researcher, serves as Founding Director of the Clalit Research Institute and Director of Health Policy Planning at Clalit - Israel's largest healthcare organization. In these roles, he is responsible for strategic planning and development of innovative organization-wide interventions for improving healthcare quality, reducing disparities, and introducing novel data and AI driven tools into practice to increase care effectiveness.

Prof. Balicer has been affiliated as faculty with the Ben-Gurion University since 2004, involved in research and teaching in the School of Public Health, and serves today as full professor and track director in the faculty' MPH program. He authored books, book chapters and over 150 peer-reviewed publications looking at various aspects of public health, quality improvement, and preventive medicine. In recent years, Prof. Balicer's research is focused on the study of extensive clinical databases in care provision and policymaking, as well as in applying and assessing innovative models of care aimed at increasing the effectiveness of non-communicable diseases care. In parallel, he is involved in the study of emerging infectious diseases prevention and control, through modeling and real-life big data.

Prof. Balicer serves as Chair of the Israeli Society for Quality in Healthcare, as an Advisor to Israeli Ministry of Health on infectious disease epidemiology, health policy and emergency preparedness. He also serves as a Board Member of the International Foundation for Integrated Care and of the European Federation of Medical Informatics.

Prof. Balicer serves in senior advisory groups to the World Health Organization (WHO) Regional Office for Europe - including the Region’s Senators Group, and is involved in projects focusing on chronic diseases monitoring, prevention and control, and healthcare systems integration.

Invited speaker: Gun Peggy Knudsen

Gun Peggy Knudsen

Deputy Director General | Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH)

Gun Peggy Knudsen is Deputy Director General of the Norwegian Institute of Public Health (NIPH), has been acting Executive Director for the Division of Infection Control for the past year and has previously served as Executive Director for the Division for Health Data and Digitalisation. Knudsen has a PhD in medical genetics and extensive experience in managing epidemiological and genetics research projects. She has in-depth knowledge of cohort data, biological material, previous and ongoing genetics projects based on materials at NIPH, and use of data from health registries in combination with other health data. She is also involved in national e-health work, representing NIPH on various committees and boards.

Invited speaker: Dipak Kalra 

Dipak Kalra

President | European Institute for Innovation through Health Data

Professor Dipak Kalra is President of the European Institute for Innovation through Health Data, which promotes the learning health ecosystem by developing solutions to scale up the trustworthy uses of health data. Dipak has led multiple European projects, and developed ISO standards, in EHR interoperability, data protection, business models and the reuse of EHRs for research. His current projects include the generation and acceptance of real world evidence in pregnancy, the governance of patient-centric clinical trials, policies and frameworks for the design and governance of mobile health programmes, scaling up the quality, interoperability and the reuse of health data for research including inputs to the European Health Data Space, the readiness of hospitals to generate evidence for value based care, and an initiative to explain the value of research using health data to the public. 

Invited speaker: Stefan Buttigieg

Stefan Buttigieg

Specialist in Public Health Medicine | Digital Health and Social Media in Healthcare | University of Malta

Dr Buttigieg is a Specialist in Public Health Medicine with an avid interest in Clinical Informatics, Social Media and Digital Health. He currently lectures at the University of Malta Faculty of Health Sciences on the topics of Digital Health and Social Media in Healthcare. He is also an Author, Tutor and Digital Health Consultant focused on creating transformative and effective change. Within the World Federation of Public Health Association Governing Council, he represents the voices of Students and Young Professionals in Public Health and he is the Vice-President of the EUPHA Section on Digital Health.

Dr Buttigieg is consistently focused on expanding his knowledge within the field of Public Health, Social Media, Digital Health and Project Management with the main aim of empowering healthcare professionals to design, develop and distribute user-centric applications for healthcare.

Dr Buttigieg is on a mission to enable Digital Health for All and ensuring that no one is left behind.

Plenary D: The inequality pandemic

Invited speaker: Ellen ‘t Hoen

Ellen ‘t Hoen

Director | Medicines Law & Policy

Ellen ‘t Hoen is the director of Medicines Law & Policy, a group of legal and policy experts offering advice to international organizations and governments. From 1999 until 2009 she was the director of policy for Médecins sans Frontières. In 2009 she joined UNITAID in Geneva to set up the Medicines Patent Pool (MPP). She was the MPP’s first executive director until 2012.

She has published widely and is the author of several books. In 2017 she received the Prix Prescrire for her book “Private Patents and Public Health: Changing intellectual property rules for public health.”

In 2005, 2006, 2010, 2011 and in 2020 she was listed as one of the 50 most influential people in intellectual property by the journal Managing Intellectual Property. In 2020, she was appointed Officer of the Order of Oranje-Nassau, a royal award given in recognition of her work on access to medicines.

She has a master’s degree in law from the University of Amsterdam and a PhD from the University of Groningen where she remains a Global Health Law Fellow at the law faculty.

Invited speaker: Kevin Fenton

Kevin Fenton

United Kingdom
Regional Director London | Department of Health and Social Care | Office of Health Improvement and Disparities

Professor Fenton has worked in a variety of public health roles across government and academia in the UK and internationally, most recently taking a leading role in London’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Professor Fenton became the Regional Director for London in the Department of Health and Social Care’s Office for Health Improvement and Disparities (OHID) in October 2021, having previously held the same position within Public Health England from April 2020 until its functions transferred to OHID. Within this role, he is also the statutory public health advisor to the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority. He provides leadership across London for health, prevention of ill health, health protection and reduction of health inequalities.

In November 2020, Professor Fenton was named by Powerlist as the second most influential black person in Britain for his work leading the fight against coronavirus and his public health leadership on tackling inequalities. In Spring 2020, he oversaw the national PHE review of disparities in risks and outcomes of COVID-19, published as the ground-breaking ‘Beyond the Data’ report.  The review led to recommendations which have shaped a more equitable COVID-19 pandemic response, both nationally and locally.

Professor Fenton previously held a joint position as Strategic Director of Place and Wellbeing and Director of Public Health at London Borough of Southwark. In this role he led the council’s planning, regeneration, community engagement and public health portfolios driving inclusive regeneration, digital public health, asset-based community development and working in partnership with the NHS to promote health in all policies.

From 2012-2017, Kevin was PHE’s National Director for Health and Wellbeing, leading national prevention programmes including screening for cancer, NHS Health Checks, obesity, mental health, e-cigarettes and tobacco harm reduction, HIV, sexual and reproductive health.  He established and led PHE's Health Equity programme, focused on addressing the social determinants of health and promoting place-based approaches to health improvement.

Between 2005-2012, Professor Fenton was the Director of the National Centre for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention (NCHHSTP), within the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in America. He also served as chief of CDC’s National Syphilis Elimination Effort, having worked in research, epidemiology, and the prevention of HIV and other STDs since 1995. Between 2000 and 2004, he was Director of the HIV and STI Department in the United Kingdom’s Health Protection Agency and Senior Lecturer in HIV and STI epidemiology and control at University College London

Invited speaker: Rossalina Latcheva

Rossalina Latcheva

Programme Manager for Fair and Equal Societies | Research and Data Unit | European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)

Rossalina Latcheva (PhD) is currently appointed as a senior Programme Manager for Fair and Equal Societies at the Research and Data Unit of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) in Vienna. Her areas of expertise with respect to FRA’s work include equality and non-discrimination, racism, xenophobia and related intolerance, migration and integration, gender-based violence, and mixed methods research. She is experienced in developing, collecting, and analysing primary and secondary data, as well as in applying diverse quantitative and qualitative research methodologies. Prior to joining FRA, she held a university post-doctoral position at the University of Zurich, Switzerland, and was appointed as a university lecturer at the University of Vienna, Austria. She holds a PhD in sociology from the Justus-Liebig University Giessen in Germany and has published a number of articles, book chapters and reports on migration, national and European identity, ethnic exclusion, violence against women and mixed methods research.

Page last updated 28 Oct 2021