Keynote Talks:

Penninger, Josef

Josef Penninger (© HZI - Stephan Dublasky)

Prof. Dr. Josef Penninger, HZI, Braunschweig


Josef Penninger born in Gurten, Austria, is since July 1, 2023 the Scientific Director of the Helmholtz Centre for Infection Research in Germany. At the same time, he was appointed part-time Professor for Precision Medicine at the Medical University of Vienna. Josef Penninger studied medicine at the University of Innsbruck. From 1990 to 1994 he worked as post-doctoral fellow at the Ontario Cancer Institute, thereafter until 2002 at the Department of Immunology and Medical Biophysics at the University of Toronto. As Principal Investigator at Amgen, his independent lab contributed to the development of the antibody Denosumab for bone loss and found the first connection for RANKL to mammary gland development in pregnancy and breast cancer. In 2002, he moved to Vienna, to start and develop the Institute of Molecular Biotechnology of the Austrian Academy of Sciences, which has become one of the prime research centers in the world. From the end of 2018 to June 2023 Josef Penninger returned to Canada and was the Director of the Life Sciences Institute at the University of British Columbia. Dr. Penninger created a similar environment at the LSI that nurtured and trained the best and brightest young minds of UBC scholars. His major accomplishments include pioneering insights into the molecular basis of osteoporosis and breast cancer and demonstrating a critical role for ACE2 as the cellular receptor for SARS Coronavirus infections and linking ACE2 to lung failure in such infections. 

Menche, Jörg

Prof. Dr. Jörg Menche, Medical University of Vienna


Jörg Menche studied physics in Germany and Brazil and obtained a PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Colloids and Interfaces in 2010. He worked as a postdoc at Northeastern University and Harvard Medical School in Boston, before starting his own research group at the CeMM Research Center for Molecular Medicine in Vienna in 2015. In 2020 he became full professor at the University of Vienna where he holds a dual appointment at the Center for Molecular Biology (Max Perutz Labs) and the Faculty of Mathematics. His interdisciplinary team combines backgrounds ranging from biology and bioinformatics to medicine, physics, mathematics & arts. The broad ambition of his group is to use tools and concepts from network theory to elucidate the complex machinery of interacting molecules that constitutes the basis of (patho-)physiological states. Major areas of interest are network-based approaches to rare diseases, understanding the basic principles of how perturbations of biological systems influence each other and developing novel Virtual Reality (VR) based technologies for analyzing large genomic data.

Sander, Maike

© Sander

Prof. Dr. Maike Sander, MDC, Berlin


Prof. Maike Sander was appointed as Scientific Director of the Max Delbrück Center (MDC) in Berlin, Germany in November 2022. Prior to coming to Berlin, she served as a Director of the Pediatric Diabetes Research Center at the University of California, San Diego. Dr. Sander's research aims to understand the molecular mechanisms that control the formation and function of insulin-producing pancreatic beta cells with the goal to identify novel therapeutic approaches for diabetes. Her work combines genetic approaches in a human pluripotent stem cell model of beta cells with single-cell genomics and genetic association data. Her honors include the Grodsky Award from the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, the Humboldt Research Award, the Albert Renold Prize from the European Association for the Study of Diabetes and election to the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, and the German National Academy of Sciences.

As a Scientific Director of the MDC, Prof. Dr. Sander seeks to foster creativity innovation and entrepreneurship. She advocates for the empowerment of talent at all levels and the creation of an environment where all individuals can succeed. She believes that considering diverse viewpoints and considering different ideas and perspectives creates richer solutions and propels innovation


Witzenrath, Martin

© Witzenrath

Prof. Dr. Martin Witzenrath, Charité Berlin


After graduating from high school, Martin Witzenrath completed a one-year training program as a nursing assistant and then studied human medicine at Justus Liebig University in Giessen, where he obtained his doctorate summa cum laude in 2003. He received his subsequent medical residency training as well as his habilitation and venia legendi in 2010 at Charité-Universitätsmedizin Berlin. During this time he was also awarded the sponsorship award of the German Society of Pneumology.
Prof. Witzenrath turned down several appointments to W3 professorships, but in 2017 accepted a call for a W3 professorship in pneumology at Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin. He has been Head of the Clinic for Pneumology, Respiratory Medicine and Intensive Care Medicine at Charité and Medical Chair of Charité Centrum 12 (Internal Medicine and Dermatology) since 2022.  His main research interests center around the fields of pneumonia and acute respiratory failure, with a focus on mechanistic studies and translation from bench (in vitro and in vivo models) to bedside (observational and interventional clinical trials), and back. He is elected member of the DFG Review Board (Medicine), Fellow of the European Respiratory Society, active and partly leading member of several DFG- and BMBF-funded consortia, advisor of biotech and pharma companies, and serves as ombudsman and member of the Research Commission of the Charité.

Bergh, Björn


Prof. Bergh has a background in Medicine and specialised in Diagnostic Radiology. After 5 years as CIO at the University Hospital Frankfurt he headed the Department of Infor-mation Technology and Medical Engineering at the University Hospital Heidelberg for 15 years, where he was also Full Professor and Department Head for Medical Information Systems. Since 2018 he is acting as Professor for Medical Informatics and Chairman of the Institute of Medical Informatics and Statistics at Kiel University and Chief Digital Of-ficer of the University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein (UKSH).

He is author of over 140 publications, participated in over 40 national and international research projects and earned various awards together with his team His main research areas are in the applied medical informatics domain including health telematics and shared care records, knowledge management and big data, information infrastructures and interoperability and the integration of Artificial Intelligence into clinical IT landscapes.


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