Plenary Speakers

Prof. George Dimopoulos
Professor, PhD MBA
Dept. Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute
Bloomberg School of Public Health
Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland, USA
Director (JHMRI Parasite Core), Deputy Director (JHMRI)
ERA Chair, Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology (IMBB), FORTH – Hellas


Dr. Dimopoulos has over the past 30 years acquired a broad expertise in the molecular biology, functional genomics and genetics of disease vector mosquitoes and relevant infection models. He received his BSc in microbiology from Stockholm University in 1990, his PhD in biology from the University of Crete in 1996, and his MBA from Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School in 2008. He performed postdoctoral training at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Prof. Kafatos laboratory between 1996 and 2001, he was a Senior Lecturer at Imperial College London between 2001 and 2003, and then joined the faculty at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Molecular Microbiology and immunology Department and the Malaria Research Institute. He was promoted to tenured professor in 2011, and serves as a deputy director of the Malaria Research Institute and director of the Parasite Core facility. Dr. Dimopoulos is an elected member of the Alpha Chapter of the Delta Omega Public Health Honor Society, and a member of the American Academy of Microbiology. Dr. Dimopoulos’ research program broadly focuses on the innate immune systems and microbiomes of the mosquito disease vectors Anopheles and Aedes, and how these can be harnessed to attenuate transmission of malaria and arboviral diseases. His group has pioneered in studies of how mosquito immunity and microbiota influences Plasmodium and arbovirus infection virus infection. Dr. Dimopoulos’ research aims at understanding the biology of mosquito – pathogen interactions to develop novel intervention strategies. The basic science, which addresses a largely unexplored area of the tripartite interactions between parasitic or viral pathogens, the insect’s innate immune system and microbiome, is coupled to innovative translational research that aims at vector-borne disease control.


Prof. Dr. Consuelo De Moraes
Professor, Department of Environmental Systems Science
Biocommunication & Ecology
Director of the Entomological Collection,
ETH Zürich, Switzerland

Consuelo De Moraes is Professor of Biocommunication and Ecology at The Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH) in Zürich, Switzerland. Her research efforts focus on the role of information in mediating ecological interactions among species, with a particular focus on chemical signaling and olfaction. Work from her laboratory has documented novel and frequently unexpected aspects of chemical communication among plants, insects, and other organisms, elucidating important features of plant-plant and plant-insect interactions, as well as disease transmission by insect vectors. Prof. De Moraes’s research findings have broad relevance for ecology, agriculture, and human health and have been published in leading scientific journals, including Science, Nature, and PNAS. Her work has also reached a broader audience, being featured in several life science textbooks and documentary films, as well as numerous articles in the scientific and popular press. Prof. De Moraes’s professional accomplishments have been recognized through numerous awards and honors, including a Packard Foundation Fellowship; the Beckman Foundation’s Young Investigator Award; the ESA Early Career Innovation Award; the Du Pont Award; the ESA Nan-Yao Su Award for Innovation and Creativity; and the International Society of Chemical Ecology’s Silverstein-Simeone Award. She has also been named a Fellow of the Entomological Society of America and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Prof. Dr. Norbert Perrimon
Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School
Investigator, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, USA


Norbert Perrimon, PhD, James Stillman Professor of Developmental Biology in the Department of Genetics at Harvard Medical School, Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, and Associate member of the Broad Institute, is a geneticist known for pioneering a number of techniques in Drosophila, as well as specific substantive contributions to signal transduction, developmental biology, and physiology. Among the tools that he has developed are the FLP-FRT Dominant Female Sterile technique to generate germline mosaics, the GAL4-UAS method to control gene expression both spatially and temporally, high-throughput genome wide RNAi and CRISPR screens, and proximity labeling methods to identify secreted molecules. These methods have had transformative impacts in signal transduction, development, physiology, neurobiology, and functional genomics. Early in his career, he identified and characterized factors involved in RTK, Wnt, and JAK/STAT signaling, contributing to the elucidation of these canonical pathways. Perrimon went on discover intestinal stem cells in the adult fly gut, opening up an entire field of study to identify factors and pathways involved in stem cell homeostasis and regeneration. In more recent years, he has taken a systematic approach to identify factors involved in inter-organ communication, which are leading to a systems wide understanding of how hormonal systems are regulated by the state of various organs in homeostatic and stressed conditions. Perrimon has been on the faculty of Harvard Medical School since 1986. He received the George W. Beadle Medal from the Genetics Society of America in 2004. He has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, American Association for the Advancement of Science, EMBO, and the National Academy of Sciences. He has trained more than 120 students and postdoctoral fellows, most of whom currently hold academic positions.


Prof. Dr. Theodora Petanidou
Professor of Ecology & Ecogeography, Department of Geography,
University of the Aegean, Greece

Theodora Petanidou is professor of Ecology & Ecogeography at the University of the Aegean, Greece, with research experience from several universities in Europe and the Americas. Her research interests vary from pollination ecology to natural resources and conservation, Mediterranean ecogeography and cultural ecology. She adores marginal habitats characterized by extreme conditions (phrygana, saline systems, abandoned lands and agriculture terraces) especially in the Aegean Archipelago, where she devotes her main research efforts. Her major research work is on pollination ecology, focusing principally on biodiversity, structure and function of plant–pollinator communities, pollinator diversity and biogeography, in particular of bees and hoverflies, as well as floral rewards, especially nectar. A great amount of her most recent research emphasizes on threats posed on pollinators and pollination systems in the Mediterranean, such as climate change and fires, as well as habitat overexploitation including overgrazing and beekeeping intensification. Furthermore, and since mountain systems constitute sensitive indicators of climate change, she has started a systematic monitoring of plant–pollinator systems of the major Greek mountains. Her interests the last few years include also large-scale popularizing and outreaching of the collected knowledge targeting to public awareness and sensitization, as well as to behavioral change (e.g. projects LIFE TERRACESCAPE, LIFE 4 POLLINATORS). She is the founder of the “Melissotheque of the Aegean”, an important insect collection infrastructure established in the Biogeography & Ecology Laboratory, in Mytilene; so far the Melissotheque includes more than 200,000 pollinator specimens from the Aegean and adjacent areas.

Prof. dr. ir. Thomas Van Leeuwen
Professor, Faculty of Bioscience Engineering
Department of Plants and Crops
University of Ghent, Belgium


Dr. ir. Thomas Van Leeuwen is professor at the Department of Plants and Crops of Ghent University, Belgium. Prof. Van Leeuwen devotes his research to the elucidation of adaptation mechanisms in crop pests, mainly mites such as the spider mite Tetranychus urticae. In the last decade, he was one of the first scholars to underpin the molecular mechanisms of acaricide resistance. With the availability of a high-quality genome sequence, his team and collaborators acquired considerable expertise in genomic mapping, which allowed to elucidate resistance mechanisms without any prior hypothesis, thereby also uncovering the molecular mode of action of several classes of insecticides and acaricides. Although acaricide resistance is the primary subject, investigations into the mechanisms of plant adaptation and extreme polyphagy are also a main interest. Recently, after obtaining an ERC consolidator grant, prof. Van Leeuwen focusses on the molecular genetic mechanisms of gene regulation in the context of xenobiotic resistance. This entails the determination of cis- and trans regulatory variation, expression QTL mapping and the role of gene copy number variation. His research also expands into the fundamental development of reverse genetic tools (RNAi, Crispr/Cas9) tailored to spider mites and other difficult to transform insects.


Prof. Robert M. Waterhouse
Swiss National Science Foundation Professeur Boursier
Group Leader, SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, Department of Ecology and Evolution
University of Lausanne, Switzerland

As an Assistant Professor and Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics Group Leader at the Department of Ecology and Evolution of the University of Lausanne since 2017, Robert Waterhouse is developing the research initiatives of his group with a focus on comparative molecular evolutionary and functional genomics of arthropod biodiversity. His team strives to build bioinformatics tools and resources that facilitate the elucidation of interactions between gene evolution and gene function, developing computational approaches to interrogate evolutionary and functional data: relating gene and genome evolution to gene function, gene expression, and organismal traits. He is also deeply involved in coordinating and leading European efforts for scaling up production of biodiversity genomics data and building data management infrastructures required for efficient processing and open data sharing. His research motivations are on the downstream analyses: data science focused on developing the computational biology tools required to make sense of the molecular data, to characterise how genes and genomes evolve and how this relates to genomic element functions at molecular, cellular, and organismal levels. The biological focus of his group is on arthropods, where rapidly increasing genomic taxonomic sampling combined with their countless evolutionary adaptations mean they are an ideal study system for investigating how conservation or divergence of functional genomic elements give rise to the splendour of animal biology. His group’s research interfaces evolutionary and computational biology, with a focus on key questions in molecular biology and evolution that are also directly relevant to global public health and with applications to agriculture and the environment in the context of a rapidly changing planet.

Theme: Overlay by Kaira
Cultural Conference Center of Heraklion, Crete