9th Australasian Viral Hepatitis Conference


Dr John Ward - Director, Division of Viral Hepatitis, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), USA

Dr. John Ward is Director of the Division of Viral Hepatitis at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Dr. Ward is responsible for planning and directing national and international research, surveillance, and public health programs related to viral hepatitis prevention and control. 

During his tenure, Dr. Ward has guided the revision of CDC’s viral hepatitis policies, including those to promote education, vaccination, and testing. To facilitate policy implementation, Dr. Ward started new surveillance, research, and prevention programs. At the national level, Dr. Ward conceived of and sponsored an Institute of Medicine (IOM) review of viral hepatitis prevention in the United States, leading to development of the first HHS Action Plan for Viral Hepatitis Prevention, Care, and Treatment and new policies for viral hepatitis vaccination and testingGlobally, Dr. Ward has served as an expert consultant to the World Health Organization (WHO). As such, he helped foster new immunization policies, including the adoption of universal hepatitis B vaccination of newborns as a global health goal, the passage of a viral hepatitis resolution by the World Health Assembly, and the development of WHO’s first strategic plan for viral hepatitis. Dr. Ward’s experience includes 14 years in the field of HIV/AIDS conducting early studies of HIV transmission and directing national HIV/AIDS surveillance. Dr. Ward also spent 7 years as Editor of CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).  Dr. Ward has authored over 140 scientific publications and  served as Editor for Silent Victories, a history of public health in the 20th century published in 2007 by Oxford University Press. 

Dr. Ward received his MD from the University of Alabama School of Medicine in Birmingham and completed an internship and residency in internal medicine at the University of Alabama Hospitals. He obtained additional postgraduate training with the London School of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, CDC’s Epidemic Intelligence Service and the infectious diseases fellowship program at the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle. He holds a clinical faculty appointment with the Department of Medicine, Emory University, Atlanta, GA.

Professor Maggie Bassendine -  Professor of Hepatology, Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University, UK 

Maggie Bassendine is a clinician scientist; she is currently Visiting Professor at Imperial College, London and Emeritus Professor at Newcastle University, UK where she was Professor of Hepatology (1994 -2014) and the first medical director of Newcastle Liver Transplant Unit (1993-96). She has published widely in all areas of liver disease [h-index = 54 and i10-index = 160]. Her current research interests include host-viral interaction in hepatitis C and, in clinical practice, targeted case finding in hepatitis B. She is a member of the UK Department of Health Advisory Group on Hepatitis and previous appointments include UK representative on EASL governing board, chair of liver section of British Society of Gastroenterology, trustee of the UK charity, British Liver Trust and membership of editorial boards of Gut, Journal of Hepatology, Hepatology, Clinical Science, Quarterly Journal of Medicine and Addiction Biology. 

Dr Dieter Glebe - Head, National Reference Centre for Hepatitis B and D viruses, Institute of Medical Virology, Justus-Liebig University Giessen, Germany

Dieter Glebe is molecular virologist and studied cell biology and genetics. His major research interests at University in Giessen/Germany are basic molecular virology of hepatitis B and D viruses, especially characterizing virus-cell interactions during early infection events. Recently, he succeeded in characterizing new hepadnaviruses from bats with a zoonotic potential. He is also coordinator of international research projects related to clinical aspects of hepatitis B, including hepatitis B vaccination and HBV/HIV coinfection. Since 2011 he is the head of German National Reference Center for Hepatitis B and D viruses, involved in surveillance of viral outbreaks, diagnostics and epidemiologic questions related to viral hepatitis in cooperation with the Robert-Koch Institute in Berlin/Germany. 

Giten Khwairakpam - Community and Policy Project Manager, amfAR’s TREAT Asia program, Bangkok, Thailand

Giten is currently the Community and Policy Project Manager at amfAR’s TREAT Asia program in Bangkok, Thailand.  He has been working on improving hepatitis C treatment access and advocating for price reductions in South and South East Asia in partnership with regional and national community networks for 7 years.  Giten also has been providing training to national PLHIV and PWID networks on hepatitis C treatment, access issues and new direct acting agents and their use with antiretroviral therapy. His involvement in regional advocacy for hepatitis C treatment access has included efforts to engage with UNITAID and the Global fund, and facilitating negotiations with originator and generic pharmaceutical companies to address price- and non-price barriers.


Prof. Alex Thompson is Director of the Department of Gastroenterology at St Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne.

Alex is a NHMRC Research Fellow of the University of Melbourne (St. Vincent's Hospital, Melbourne), Senior Research Fellow at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL) and an Adjunct Assistant Professor of the Department of Gastroenterology, Duke University Medical Center. Dr Thompson was involved in the discovery of IL28B polymorphism as a predictor of treatment outcome in HCV. His major research interest is the identification of host and viral determinants of the natural history and treatment outcomes of hepatitis B and C viruses. He has published widely in journals including Nature, Gastroenterology, Hepatology, Gut and Journal of Hepatology.

Professor Margaret Hellard is the Head of the Centre for Population Health at the Burnet Institute in Melbourne and Head of Hepatitis Services in the Infectious Diseases Unit at The Alfred Hospital.

Margaret’s principal research interests are in preventing the transmission and improving the management of blood borne viruses and sexually transmitted infections. She has considerable experience in undertaking multidisciplinary community based research involving people who inject drugs (PWID), men who have sex with men and other vulnerable populations.

Margaret is a member of numerous advisory committees and working groups; she played an instrumental role in the development of the WHO Hepatitis C Guidelines for Screening, Care and Treatment and the Australian National Strategy for Hepatitis C (2014 – 2017).

Margaret is a Principal Investigator of the TAP Study, a world first study examining the efficacy hepatitis C treatment as prevention in PWID, using a community based social network approach.

Marc Pellegrini 

Marc Pellegrini is an infectious diseases physician and laboratory head in the Infection and Immunity Division of the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute. His research focus is host-pathogen interactions and more specifically host cell signalling and cell death pathways that impact on outcomes in chronic human infections. He has developed preclinical models that allow the investigation of host responses to hepatitis B virus. These in vivo models have assisted Marc in translating discoveries to therapies, such as the use of drugs that specifically induce the death of infected cells to promote a functional cure. Marc’s other discoveries lead to the FDA and European Medicines Agency approval of interleukin-7 therapy for the management of the previously untreatable disease caused by JC virus.

Alison Coelho 

Alison Coelho is the Manger of Multicultural Health and Support Services (MHSS) at the Centre for Culture Ethnicity and Health (CEH).  This unique state-wide program aims to prevent HIV, sexually transmissible infections, and viral Hepatitis amongst high prevalence refugee and migrant communities across Victoria.  She has a background in Sociology and Community Development.

Alison has significant Local Government experience, coordinating population based health planning with Moonee Valley City Council, developing and implementing the first prevention based Health Plan in the State.  She also developed the, Diversity Strategy, Reconciliation Policy and Women’s Health Initiative for Council.   Prior to this she spent over a decade in the community sector in refugee policy development, advocacy, regional coordination and direct service in metropolitan Melbourne.  She undertook an integrated health planning study tour of Cuba in 2011.  Alison has also worked in Nairobi on an HIV prevention project with young people.    She is committed to addressing the social determinants of health and their impact on the health and wellbeing of refugee and migrant communities.