4th International Symposium on the Environmental Dimension of Antibiotic Resistance

13–17 August 2017 • Lansing, Michigan (United States)

4th International Symposium on the Environmental Dimension of Antibiotic Resistance

13–17 August 2017 • Lansing, Michigan (United States)

Congress details

Confirmed Invited Plenary Speakers

We are happy and honoured to already announce the following confirmed invited speakers for the 4th International Symposium on the Environmental Dimension of Antibiotic Resistance:

Monika Dolejská (Brno/CZ)

Professor in Microbiology and Senior Researcher
University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno 

Title of plenary talk: Carbapenemases from environmental sources and their risk to humans

Monika Dolejská is an Assistant Professor and the Head of Laboratory for Antibiotic Resistance in the Department of Biology and Wildlife Diseases, University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences Brno, Czech Republic. She also works as a senior scientist in the Molecular Veterinary Medicine research program at Central European Institute of Technology (CEITEC), Brno, Czech Republic. She has 12-year experience in molecular epidemiology of antimicrobial resistance in Escherichia coli from animals, the environment and wildlife. In past years her research focuses mainly on dissemination of bacteria with plasmid-mediated resistance genes to critically important antimicrobials, such as cephalosporins, carbapenems and fluoroquinolones and comparative sequence analysis of antibiotic resistance plasmids from diverse sources. 

Lisa Durso (Lincoln, NE/US)

Research Microbiologist
United States Department of Agriculture
Agricultural Research Service
Agroecosystem Management Research Unit

Title of plenary talk: Research advances in animal agriculture to minimize ARG risk and NARMS

Lisa Durso is a Research Microbiologist working with the Agricultural Research Service in Lincoln, Nebraska.  Her current program focuses on solving applied problems related to pathogens and antibiotic resistance in manure-impacted and natural settings, and characterizing the role of manure-borne microbes in soil health.  Dr. Durso began her scientific career working for state and federal public health agencies, and has been working in agriculture since receiving her Ph.D.  She has over 15 years of experience finding practical solutions to address pre-harvest foodborne pathogens, water quality, and microbes in manure.  Her areas of expertise include microbial ecology of agricultural production systems and tracking manure-borne bacteria, including routine surveillance and outbreak investigations. 

Michael Gillings (Sydney/AU)

Professor of Molecular Evolution
Department of Biological Sciences
Macquarie University
Sydney Australia

Title of plenary talk: Assembly and transfer of ARGs

Michael Gillings is in the Department of Biological Sciences at Macquarie University, where he is Professor of Molecular Evolution. In general, his interests focus on genetic diversity and its role in evolution. This allows an eclectic research program, with papers on viruses, bacteria, fungi, diatoms, green algae, invertebrates, plants, sharks, and mammals in the last five years. Two of his main research programs include the origins and environmental consequences of antibiotic resistance, and the new geological era of the Anthropocene, precipitated by human effects on planetary systems. He teaches a large first year class, with 1100 students, and contributes regularly to radio, television and online forums.

Rai Kookana (Adelaide/AU)

Principal Research Scientist
CSIRO Australia
Professor School of Ag, Food and Wine
University of Adelaide
Waite Campus, Adelaide,

Title of plenary talk: Assessing environmental risk from antibiotic use in low and middle income countries

Dr. Rai Kookana is a Senior Principal Research Scientist with CSIRO and an affiliate Professor with University of Adelaide. Since his PhD from the University of Western Australia (1989), he has been researching on environmental fate and effects of organic contaminant in the environment. Dr Kookana’s current research interests include fate and transformations of micropollutants (e.g. pharmaceuticals and personal care products - PPCPs), fullerenes nanoparticles and nanopesticides and in the aquatic and terrestrial environments. He has published >200 journal papers, with an H-Index (ISI) of 38 and a total citation > 6000. He is also on the editorial boards of 4 international journals. In 2012, Dr Kookana was elected Fellow of the Soil Science Society of America.

Joakim Larsson (Göteborg/SE)

Professor in Environmental Pharmacology Director
Centre for Antibiotic Resistance Research at University of Gothenburg (CARe)

Title of plenary talk: A critical view on the evidence for antibiotic resistance selection in the environment

Joakim Larsson is a Professor in Environmental Pharmacology at the Department of Infectious Disease, University of Gothenburg, Sweden. He received his PhD in animal physiology in 2000 in Gothenburg, and after two years of guest research at marine labs in Canada and USA, he decided to combine his interest for the environment with medicine. He became associate professor in human physiology in 2007 and full professor in 2013. From 2016 he is director for the Centre for Antibiotic Resistance Research (CARe) at University of Gothenburg, involving more than 100 researches from six faculties. His most cited papers include the identification of ethinylestradiol as an important contributor to the feminization of wild fish, and a series of studies showing that manufacturing discharges is the cause for the most severe cases of pharmaceutical pollution observed in the environment. The research of his own research group, which include just over 20 people, focus today mainly on the environmental dimensions of antibiotic resistance. Current projects include e.g. research on the role of antibiotics, metals and antibacterial biocides in the promotion of antibiotic resistance, exploration of the environmental resistome for novel resistance genes, evaluation of advanced effluent treatment technologies, surveillance of resistance in the human population using sewage bacteria, and aquatic and aerial transmission of resistant pathogens. In 2012, Joakim Larsson received the Erik K Fernströms prize for young researchers.

Ramanan Laxminarayan (Washinton D.C./US)

Director and Senior Fellow
Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy      
Washington, D.C, WA, United States          

Title of plenary talk: Antibiotics and our Evolving Relationship with Microbes

Laxminarayan, an economist, engineer and epidemiologist by training, is director and senior fellow at the Center for Disease Dynamics, Economics & Policy (CDDEP) in Washington, D.C., and a senior research scholar and lecturer at the Princeton Environmental Institute at Princeton University.  He is a leading global expert on understanding of antibiotic resistance as a problem of managing a shared global resource. Through his prolific research, active public outreach and sustained policy engagement, Laxminarayan has played a central role in bringing the issue of drug resistance to the attention of policymakers worldwide. Laxminarayan has served on the U.S. President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology’s antimicrobial resistance working group and is a voting member of the U.S. Presidential Advisory Council on Combating Antimicrobial Resistance. He is a series editor of the Disease Control Priorities for Developing Countries, 3rd edition. In 2012, Laxminarayan created the Immunization Technical Support Unit that supports the immunization program of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the Government of India and which is credited with helping rapidly improve vaccination coverage and introduction of new vaccines.  As Vice President, Research and Policy at the Public Health Foundation of India between 2011 and 2015, he led the growth of a research division from 80 to over 700 technical and research staff. He is a co-founder of HealthCubed, which works to improve access to healthcare and diagnostics.

Célia Manaia (Porto/PT)

Environmental Research Group Diagnosis of the Centro de Biotecnologia e Química Fina

Title of plenary talk: Antimicrobial resistance in European wastewaters

Celia M. Manaia is at the School of Biotechnology of the Portuguese Catholic University, where she is a member of the Environmental Research Group Diagnosis of the Centro de Biotecnologia e Química Fina (CBQF, cbqf.esb.ucp.pt/). Her research is focused on the bacterial ecology in human-impacted environments, with particular emphasis on the spread of antibiotic resistance over the urban water cycle and the interface water-soil. The approaches most used combine culture-dependent and culture-independent methods on the study of the dynamics of bacterial communities and genetic elements. Under the topic of antibiotic resistance, she holds collaborations in different international projects and initiatives: STARE (project leader, Water JPI), NEREUS (vice president, COST Action ES1403), ANSWERS (team member, European Commission Horizon 2020 MSCA-ITN-2015-ETN: Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks, TN-ETN), NORMAN-WG5 (team member, NORMAN network), HEARD (member of the international committee, the National Science Foundation of USA).

Amy Pruden (Blacksburg, VA/US)

W. Thomas Rice Professor
Civil & Environmental Engineering
Virginia Tech

Session Chair

Amy Pruden Earned her B.S. in Biological Sciences and Ph.D. in Environmental Sciences, both from the University of Cincinnati.  Her research focuses on understanding and mitigating environmental sources and pathways of antibiotic resistance. She is currently leading projects seeking to identify critical control points for the spread of antibiotic resistance from farm to fork and in sustainable water systems.

Heike Schmitt (Utrecht/NL)

Title of plenary talk: Progress and needs in risk assessment for antimicrobial resistance

Research expertise
The research focus of Heike Schmitt lies in the field of antibiotic resistance in the environment, in which she has more than 10 years’ experience. At the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM), she is principal investigator on AMR in the environment. In addition, she acts as research advisor at the WETSUS technology institute. At IRAS at Utrecht University, she has led a research group consisting of 8-10 PhD and MSc students, technicians and researchers. She participated in a number of international projects and national governmental working groups. Heike Schmitt specialized in toxicology and environmental microbiology after her diploma in chemistry.

Professional experience

2016-today Spearhead “antibiotic resistance in the environment” at RIVM
2016-today Senior advisor at WETSUS theme ‘antibiotic resistance’
2011-today UD (assistant professor) position at Utrecht University, Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (IRAS), division Veterinary Public Health
2006-2011 Junior UD (assistant professor) position at Utrecht University, Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences (IRAS), division Veterinary Public Health
2005-2006 Junior UD (PostDoc) position at IRAS, in the EU project ERAPharm
2001-2005 PhD position at IRAS, in collaboration with the National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, RIVM “The effects of veterinary antibiotics on soil microbial communities”

Andrew Singer (Wallingford/UK)

Senior Scientist
NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology

Title of plenary talk: Environmental assessment and impacts of antibiotic use

Dr. Singer received his PhD in Soil and Water Science from the University of California Riverside in 2000. Dr. Singer is a molecular microbial ecologist with expertise in pollution chemistry and water quality assessment and mitigation. He is Co-I and PI on two recently funded projects focused on: 1) catchment scale molecular analysis and aetiology of antibiotic resistance genes, and 2) the role of antibiotics and antimicrobial resistance gene dissemination from wastewater on AMR selection and maintenance in river systems. He is also working with the National Health Service and Public Health England in modelling the impact of reduced antibiotic use in humans on AMR selection in the environment. He has worked with the Environment Agency, Defra and the Veterinary Medicines Directorate to identify the knowledge gaps in AMR in the environment and to help prioritise policy-informing research. He recently served on panels for NERC and BBSRC (UK Research Councils) to inform on the direction of future AMR funding calls and has served on the UK Scientific Pandemic Influenza Advisory Committee as a result of his research into the potential impact of widespread use and release of antiviral into the environment during an influenza pandemic.

Kornelia Smalla (Braunschweig/DE)

Deputy head of the Institute of Epidemiology and Pathogen Diagnostics
Institute for Epidemiology and Pathogen Diagnostics at the Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI), Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants

Title of plenary talk: Transferable antibiotic resistance in terrestrial agriculture

Professor Dr. Dr. h.c. Kornelia Smalla is the head of the microbial ecology group in the Institute for Epidemiology and Pathogen Diagnostics at the Julius Kühn-Institut (JKI), Federal Research Centre for Cultivated Plants, in Braunschweig. She studied chemistry and did her PhD in biochemistry at the Martin-Luther-University in Halle. The venia legendi for microbiology was obtained at the Technical University Braunschweig where she is an adjunct Professor for Microbiology. From the beginning of the 1990’s Kornelia Smalla contributed to the new field of molecular microbial ecology. The development of cultivation-independent methods to study microbial communities in complex environments and their response to pollutants such as antibiotics is a major theme of her work. Her long-term research interests are unraveling the factors that shape the transferable resistome and plasmid-mediated bacterial adaptation to changing environments.

Barth F. Smets

is Professor of Environmental Microbiology at the Technical University of Denmark. He is educated in Belgium (MSc Applied Biological Sciences, 1987, Ghent Univ.) and the USA (PhD Environmental Science & Engineering, 1992, Univ. Illinois), had previous appointments at the University of Connecticut (1995-2004) and Clemson University (1993-1994). His research interest is at the interface of microbial ecology and environmental and water quality engineering: elucidating, describing and ultimately controlling and managing microbial communities, interactions, and processes. Of special attention are biofilm science and engineering: elucidating cellular-level and ecological processes that occur in natural and engineered biofilms, and horizontal gene flow in microbial communities and the role of plasmids as vehicle for HGT. Currently, he coordinates interdisciplinary national and European research efforts that seeks to understand the ecology of antimicrobial resistance genes in the urban water cycle.  

Ed Topp (London/CA)

Principal Research Scientist
London Research and Development Centre, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, London ON, Canada

Title of plenary talk: The environmental dimension of antibiotic resistance; where have we been, where should we go?

Ed is a native of Montréal. He studied microbiology at McGill University, and he received his PhD in 1988 from the Department of Microbiology at the University of Minnesota. Ed is a Principal Research Scientist with Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada and also has adjunct appointments with the Department of Biology at Western University in London Ontario, and the Department of Soil and Water Sciences at the University of Florida. Ed has led several national studies that seek to better understand and to better manage the risks that food production practices pose for environmental quality and human health. This work has included terrestrial and aquatic exposure and fate assessments for numerous pharmaceuticals including various antibiotics, impacts of antibiotics on soil microorganisms, and fate of antibiotic resistance genes in soils receiving animal manures or sewage sludge.   Ed is the national coordinator for the Genomics Research and Development Initiative project on antimicrobial resistance, a key component of the innovation pillar of the Canadian National AMR Action Plan. Ed is a former president (2011) of the Canadian Society of Microbiologists, and chaired the first EDAR workshop in 2012.

Marko Virta (Helsinki/FI)

Principal Investigator
Department of Environmental Sciences
University of Helsinki, Finland

Title of plenary talk: Analyzing the host range of antibiotic resistance genes in the environmental samples without culturing by epicPCR

Marko Virta is currently professor of ecotoxicology at University of Helsinki. His research interests include antibiotic resistance in various human impacted environments such as waste waters, agriculture and aquaculture. He has published over 90 articles and supervised 14 PhDs. His recent achievements include co-development of epicPCR, protocol for linking taxa and function without cultivation and Inverse-PCR, protocol for analyzing the genetic environment of antibiotic resistance genes without cultivation.

David G. White (Knoxville, TN/US)

Associate Dean for Research
Professor of Food Science
University of Tennessee, Institute of Agriculture

Title of plenary talk: Interconnected mobilomes among animals, humans and the environment

David White joined The University of Tennessee, Institute of Agriculture as an Associate Dean for Research and Associate Director of the Tennessee Agricultural Experiment Station in September, 2016. He previously served in several positions in the U.S. Food and Drug Administration including Chief Science Officer/Research Director, Director of the Office of Research at FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine, and Director of FDA’s National Antimicrobial Resistance Monitoring System (NARMS).

He previously served as a member of the Ad hoc group on Antimicrobial Resistance, Office International des Epizooties (OIE), co-chair of both the FDA Antimicrobial Resistance Steering Committee and the U.S. Interagency Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance and as the U.S Delegate to the Codex Ad Hoc Intergovernmental Task Force on Antimicrobial Resistance. Dr. White is an editor of the book “Frontiers in Antibiotic Resistance”, ASM Press, Washington D.C. and is on the editorial board of Foodborne Pathogens and Disease. 

Guang-Guo Ying (Guangzhou/CH)

Director and Distinguished
Environmental Research Institute (ERI)
South China Normal University
Guangzhou, China

Title of plenary talk: Environmental chemistry, fate and distribution and connection to antibiotic resistance

Dr GUANG-GUO YING is the Director and Distinguished Professor of environmental chemistry and ecotoxicology in the Environmental Research Institute (ERI) of South China Normal University. He received his BSc from Zhejiang University, MSc from graduate school of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, and PhD (Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology) from the University of Adelaide (Australia). He has worked as a research scientist at the University of Melbourne and CSIRO Land and Water (Australia) for many years. He was recruited by the Chinese Academy of Sciences through “100 Talents” program, and received “Distinguished Scholar” Award from the National Natural Science Foundation of China. He is a professor in State Key Laboratory of Organic Geochemistry, Guangzhou Institute of Geochemistry, Chinese Academy of Sciences. He is also appointed as a principal research scientist in the CAS Centre for Pearl River Delta Environmental Pollution and Control Research.

His research interests focus on environmental contamination assessment and remediation technology, including the fate and effects of contaminants in the environment. He is currently conducting research in emerging science areas such as antibiotics and AMR, endocrine disrupting chemicals and pharmaceuticals and personal care products in the environment, and environmental issues associated with wastewater and biosolid reuse as well as water quality improvement technology. He is interested in the development of chemical and biological tools for the risk assessment of contaminants in soil and water environments. He has led multiple large grants and supervised over 30 PhD students. He is one of the Most Cited Scientists in Environment and Ecology. He has published more than 160 SCI papers with a citation of > 6000 and h-index 43.

Tong Zhang (Hong Kong/CH)

Professor Tong Zhang
Environmental Biotechnology Laboratory
Department of Civil Engineering
The University of Hong Kong

Title of plenary talk: Advances in assessing ARGs in wastewater using the metagenomic approach

Prof. Zhang’s research focuses on understanding the structure and function of microbial communities in biological wastewater treatment. In the last 10 years, his lab has worked on antibiotics and antibiotics resistance genes in wastewater treatment plants and related environments by applying environmental bioinformatics analysis combined with metagenomic and metatranscriptomic approaches. His expertise is on biological wastewater treatment, environmental microbiology, antibiotics and resistance genes in wastewater treatment plants, and metagenomic methods for microbial community analysis.