2017 CJD Foundation Family Conference Speakers

John Collinge, MD, CBE, FRS
Keynote Speaker
John Collinge is Professor of Neurology and Head of the Department of Neurodegenerative Disease at the UCL Institute of Neurology and Director of the UK Medical Research Council (MRC) Prion Unit in London, England. He also directs the NHS National Prion Clinic at the adjacent National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery. Prof. Collinge trained in medicine at the University of Bristol and in neurology at St. Mary’s Hospital and the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in London.

His laboratory demonstrated in 1996 that the new human prion disease, variant CJD, was caused by the same prion strain as that causing BSE in cattle and has been responsible for a number of key advances in the field. Prof. Collinge has served on numerous Government advisory committees on prion disease at a national, European Union and international level.

He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians, a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists, a Founder Fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He was awarded a CBE for services to medical research by HM the Queen. He was recently elected an Honorary Fellow of the American Neurological Association.


Jiri Safar, MD
NPDPSC Overview and Panel on Diagnostics: Recent Advances
Dr. Safar earned his MD from the School of Medicine at Charles University, Prague, Czech Republic. After his Board Certification in Neurology and PhD training in biochemistry, he received a Research Fellowship in the Laboratory of Central Nervous System Studies at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Bethesda, Maryland, directed by D.C. Gajdusek (Nobel Prize for Medicine). He continued his research at the NIH as a Senior Scientist and received the NIH Award of Merit for his work on molecular pathology of prion proteins. In 1996 he took the Associate Professor position in the Department of Neurology at the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and Senior Scientist position at the Institute for Neurodegenerative Diseases, directed by Stanley B. Prusiner (Nobel Prize for Medicine). In 2008, Dr. Safar established a new prion research lab at the Department of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University (CWRU), Cleveland, Ohio, and in 2015 was appointed the Director of the National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center at CWRU. He is an Executive Committee Member of the Case Brain Health Collaborative Initiative that is developing a strategy to establish a new Brain Health Center at CWRU to be dedicated to the translational medicine of neurodegenerative diseases.


Neil Cashman, MD
Synergies between prion diseases and other neurodegenerative diseases
Dr. Cashman, a Canadian leader in neurodegenerative diseases, was recruited to the University of British Columbia (UBC) from Toronto to establish a program of research into protein misfolding diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). He is director of the new Vancouver Coastal Health ALS Centre, which is focused on research and treatment of the disease. ALS is a progressive neuromuscular disease that eventually paralyzes limbs and muscles of speech, swallowing and respiration. There are about 2,500 Canadians living with ALS, for which there is no cure and only limited treatment. Protein misfolding also plays a role in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases and it is implicated in prion (infectious protein) diseases such as mad cow disease and similar human illnesses, such as Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD). Dr. Cashman’s research labs at the Djavad Mowafaghian Centre for Brain Health at UBC Hospital and at the UBC Life Sciences Institute are the first labs west of Ontario dedicated to investigating misfolding diseases.

Click here to view Dr. Cashman's 2017 presentation.


Stéphane Haik, MD, PhD
Worms: a novel genetic model for therapeutic research in prion disease
Dr. Haik is Research Director at INSERM. As a neurologist and neuroscientist, he has a longtime interest in prion diseases. He received an “Inserm Avenir” Award in 2005, and since 2009, he has co-directed a team that focuses on Alzheimer’s and prion diseases at the Salpêtrière. He is the coordinator of the French National Center of Reference for Unconventional Transmissible Agents. He is a referee for numerous international journals and National agencies.

Click here to view Dr. Haik's 2017 presentation.


Charles E. Mays, PhD
Design and Development of Anti-Prions as a Novel Therapeutic Strategy for Prion Disease
Dr. Mays is a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Neurology at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. He was previously a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Alberta Centre for Prions and Protein Folding Diseases in Edmonton, Canada.

Click here to view Dr. Mays' 2017 presentation.


Gianluigi Zanusso, MD, PhD
RT-QuIC assay on olfactory brushings in asymptomatic carriers of E200K PRNP mutation: an explorative study for establishing when a preventive therapy should be started
Dr. Zanusso is an associate professor at the University of Verona, Italy in the Neuroscience, Biomedicine and Movement Science department.

Click here to view Dr. Zanusso's 2017 presentation.


Wenquan Zou, MD, PhD
Assessing Prions in Sporadic CJD Patients
Dr. Zou is the Associate Professor from the Departments of Pathology and Neurology, and Associate Director of National Prion Disease Pathology Surveillance Center, Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland, Ohio. He received his medical degree from Jiangxi Medical College and his Ph.D. from Shanghai Medical University. He has practiced Internal Medicine and Nephrology in China. His post-doctoral work in neurodegenerative diseases, with a concentration in prion diseases, was done at the Institute of Pathology, Case Western Reserve University and at the Centre for Research in Neurodegenerative Diseases, University of Toronto. Dr. Zou’s research focus is in the area of prion disease. Currently, the Zou laboratory is developing patient-specific authentic cell models for studying human prion diseases and for developing therapeutic strategy for prion disease.

Click here to view Dr. Zou's 2017 presentation.