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Symposium Line Up Honors SLU Researcher's Pioneering Legacy


Some of the world's leading experts on infectious diseases, virology and immunology have come together at Saint Louis University's School of Medicine to honor the pioneering legacy of SLU researcher R. Mark Buller, Ph.D. at a symposium founded in his memory. The Sept. 12 symposium was set to take place at the Allied Health Profession Building's Multipurpose Room and began at 8:50 a.m. The symposium is full and closed to new registrations.

R. Mark Buller, Ph.D.
R. Mark Buller, Ph.D., was a leading expert in the study of infectious diseases like pox virus. A new symposium that will take place later this month has been organized to honor his legacy of scientific innovation. SLU photo

Buller, a world-renowned expert on pox viruses, died earlier this year when a car struck him fatally while he was riding his bike. 

"One of Mark's greatest strengths and one he shared with us at SLU was his ability to make connections," James Brien, Ph.D., said. Brien, a close colleague of Buller's said that the symposium's line up and interest it has generated were a direct result of Buller's impact not only on science, but also as a collaborator and mentor. "He was able to make self-sacrifices and to bring together a wide collection of folks."

Organized by Buller's colleagues in the Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, the symposium's speakers will cover a broad range of topics related to Buller's work.

The symposium's speakers include:

  • Bernard Moss, M.D., Ph.D., NIH distinguished investigator with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, part of the National Institutes of Health.  Moss has received the Dickson Prize for Medical Research, the Taylor International Prize in Medicine and the International Poxvirus, Asfarvirus and Iridovirus Lifetime Achievement Award among other honors. He is currently an editor of Virology and is a member of the editorial boards of a number of prominent journals in the field. Moss specializes in cell biology, virology and vaccine research.
  • Grant McFadden, Ph.D., professor and director of the Biodesign Center for Immunotherapy, Vaccines and Virotherapy at Arizona State University. McFadden is co-editor-in-chief of PLoS Pathogens, a senior editor at the Journal of Virology, and served as the president of the American Society for Virology from 2015 to 2016. McFadden's lab has advanced the field of viral immune subversion and is credited with the discovery of a wide spectrum of virus-derived inhibitors of the immune system. To date, McFadden has published over 340 scientific papers and reviews.
  • Andrew Pekosz, Ph.D., professor at the Johns Hopkins University. Pekosz researches the interaction of viruses with the respiratory epithelium and focuses primarily on influenza A. He also conducts research on the severe, acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS-CoV), enterovirus-D68 (EV-D68), Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV) and Andes virus, a South American hantavirus responsible for Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome (HPS). Pekosz has received a number of awards and has published in Vaccine and Virology in recent years.
  • Rachel L. Roper, Ph.D., associate professor at East Carolina University. Roper's lab focuses on viral pathogens, how viruses cause disease and how viruses can be designed to create vaccines against a number of diseases including cancer. Roper's lab is currently researching poxviruses including vaccinia virus, mousepox and raccoonpox. Roper has published in the Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research and Vaccine among other journals.
  • Ralph Baric, Ph.D., professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Baric studies coronaviruses and uses them as models to study the genetics of RNA virus transcription, replication, persistence and transmission across species. He has published on coronavirus research in RNA Biology, Journal of Virology, and the Journal of Infectious Diseases
  • Mark R. Walter, Ph.D., from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Walter's lab focuses on elucidating crystal structures of cytokines bound to their cell surface receptors in order to provide a framework for advancing research on basic cellular signaling mechanisms apply to complex problems in human diseases like lupus. 
  • Daved H. Fremont, Ph.D., professor of pathology and immunology at Washington University in St. Louis. Fremont's research group focuses on understanding surveillance processes of the immune system and the sabotage mechanisms used by pathogens to evade the body's defenses. Fremont has published in PLoS Pathogens, the Journal of Virology and Structure.
  • Amelia K. Pinto, Ph.D., assistant professor in SLU's Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology. Pinto studies arbovirus infection, a family of diseases that include Zika, West Nile Virus and Dengue Fever. Pinto has published in the Journal of VirologyEuropean Journal of Immunology and PLoS Pathogens.

The event, originally set to take place in the Doisy Research Center, was moved due to the large numbers of people who wished to attend, Brien said.

Presentations were set to run from 9 a.m. until 4:40 p.m.

The symposium reached capacity but donations are still being accepted for the R. Mark Buller Memorial Fellowship Fund. Further information about the symposium and the fellowship fund is available through the symposium's site.