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Meet the speakers

Policy-makers

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Igor Zorčič
President of the National Assembly Republic of Slovenia

The President of the National Assembly Igor Zorčič (1978) is a university graduate in law.

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After graduating from the Faculty of Law of the University of Ljubljana, in 2003 he got a job as a lawyer in the international claims department at a commercial insurance company. In the period from 2004 to 2009, he was an expert in criminal law at the District State Prosecutor’s Office in Krško. In 2006, he passed the state law exam. Three years later, he got a job in a law firm, where he worked as a lawyer until 2014, when he was first elected as a member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Slovenia. In the 2014-2018 term, he chaired the Committee on Infrastructure, Environment and Spatial Planning. As chairman of the committee, he advocated and promoted sustainable infrastructure projects. In the current term of office 2018-22, he was the leader of the SMC parliamentary group (Party of the Modern Center). After leaving the SMC party (March 2021), he is a member of the Non-attached Parliamentary Group (NeP).

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Janez Poklukar
Minister of Health, Slovenia

Janez Poklukar graduated with a degree in medical studies at the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Ljubljana and was employed with the Jesenice General Hospital.

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In early 2013, he was appointed Head of Department of Internal Medicine, where he was responsible for the organisational, expert and business management of the department. In 2014 he became Acting Director and later Director of Jesenice General Hospital, which he successfully managed until July 2019 and during that period also completed its renovation. In August 2019, he took over the management of the University Clinical Centre Ljubljana, the major health institution in the region and the country, where he was faced with both the difficult financial situation of the hospital and renovation process, as well as the challenges arising from the spreading SARS CoV-2 epidemic (COVID- 19). Under his leadership, the hospital successfully tackled all difficult conditions with good organisation, cooperation and knowledge of the issues, and also managed to provide effective treatment and care for patients. Within ten days, the management team completed the renovation of the premises, which had been an ongoing process for 12 years, and got the facilities working again at the most critical moment.
In his work, Janez Poklukar set high standards and demonstrated high managerial and professional competences, as well as excellent knowledge of the Slovenian health care system and all its strengths and weaknesses.

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John F. Ryan
Deputy Director DG SANTE

John F. Ryan is Director of the Commission Public Health directorate since September 2016. He is currently the Commission representative on the Board of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.

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Current priorities include management of the Covid pandemic, implementation of an EU cancer plan, antimicrobial resistance, vaccination policies, and the implementation of financial instruments to support health, including research.

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Barbara Kerstiëns
MPH Head of unit Health Directorate DG Research & Innovation European Commission

Dr Barbara Kerstiëns, MD, MPH is the Head of Unit in the unit responsible for ‘Combatting Diseases’ in the PEOPLE Directorate of the Directorate-General for Research and Innovation at the European Commission.

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She has a long experience in international public health, working for Médecins Sans Frontières, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public health and DG Development and Cooperation of the European Commission prior to joining DG Research and Innovation in 2012 where she has consistently worked in medical research and funding.

Barbara Kerstiëns received her M.D. from the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, a Postgraduate Certificate in Tropical Medicine from the Institute of Tropical Medicine in Antwerp and a Master of Public health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.

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Pietro Fiocchi
Member of the EU Parliament BECA

Pietro Fiocchi is an Italian Entrepreneur and politician. After graduating in aerospace engineering at the University of Missouri of Rolla, in 1990 he entered the Navy, serving as a Sub-lieutenant on the San Giorgio landing ship until 1992 and working with the San Marco Battalion and with the Comsubin, an Italian special forces department.

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After two years in the navy he began his professional activity as technical director at Ravasi Robotics, an Italian robotics company, and later as manager and technical director at Fiocchi Munizioni. In 1998 he became president and member of the board of directors of Fiocchi of America. In 2007 he founded Fiocchi UK, while in 2015 he became a member of the Board of Directors of Target, a New Zealand company producing hunting and shooting cartridges.

In 2019 he has been elected as a member of the European Parliament on the Brothers of Italy list.

He is member of the Special Committee on Beating Cancer, of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety and substitute to the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy.

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Partha Basu
Deputy Head of Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Branch at IARC

Dr Partha Basu is an MD in gynecology and PhD in clinical oncology. He was trained as a gynecologic oncologist at Imperial College (Hammersmith Hospital), London.

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He is the former head and associate professor of Department of Gynecologic Oncology at Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute of India. He is presently the Deputy Head of Cancer Early Detection and Prevention Branch at International Agency for Research on Cancer, the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization.

Dr. Basu’s pioneering research in cervical cancer prevention includes evaluation of efficacy and safety of different HPV vaccines and also the efficacy of a single dose of the vaccine, assessment of performance of cervical cancer screening and triaging tests in the limited resourced settings and development of a novel technology (thermal ablation) to treat cervical precancers. Evidence generated from these studies have informed several guidelines developed by the World Health Organization. Dr. Basu has actively engaged with the Ministry of Health of several countries to help them evaluate performance of their cancer screening programs and improve quality and coverage of such programs. Reducing inequalities in accessing cancer early detection and treatment in resource-constrained settings is another key focus of his research.

Dr. Basu’s research projects are supported by Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, National Cancer Institute of the USA, Medical Research Council of the United Kingdom, European Commission, American Cancer Society and other major funding agencies. He is project lead of the new WHO Academy initiative to launch a comprehensive learning program on cervical cancer screening and management.

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Birgitta Sacrédeus 
Rapporteur of the European Committee of the Regions and the Interparliamentary  Committee Meeting on Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan 

Ms. Birgitta Sacrédeus is a regional councilor and Member of Dalarna Regional Council, Sweden, and Member of the European Committee of the Regions - the EU's assembly of regional and local elected representatives across the European Union which advises on new laws that have an impact on regions and cities.

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Ms. Sacrédeus has 30 years of experience in regional healthcare in Dalarna, and 20 years of experience in fostering integration and cooperation between the local and regional healthcare systems.

She has ample political experience at local, regional, national and international level. She started as Member of the Mora City Council at 1988 and Member of the Social Council board, and continued at regional level as County Councillor and Member of the County Council board in the Region of Dalarna, Sweden since 1991.

Since 1998, she has been active in different Committee’s in SALAR – The Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions, which is both an employers’ organisation and an organisation that represents and advocates for local government in Sweden.

The highlights at international level include being Member of the Committee of Regions (CoR), Chairperson in the CoR Interregional Group on Health and Wellbeing as well as Member of the board of the Assembly of European Regions (AER).

Patient Advocates

Ms Marinela Debu

Marinela Debu

Bio to come

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Julio Burman

Julio discovered he had Hepatitis C by chance in 1994. He went through three year-long courses on interferon treatment. These years were not easy and Julio struggled with many challenges and questions and he looked for support.

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When he realized there are no support groups or patient associations for liver patients in Israel, Julio decided in 1998 to establish Hetz- the Israeli Organization for Liver Health.

Today Julio is cured from HCV. Nevertheless, he dedicates his life to supporting liver patients and their families, strengthening Hetz’s capacity to advocate for the PATIENTS’ RIGHT TO KNOW they have a liver disease, and the government’s obligation to screen and to treat them.

Actually, Julio is directing HETZ and is representative of the patients in the National Council of Liver of the Ministry of Health in Israel.

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Marko Korenjak
Organiser

Marko Korenjak is the president of European Liver Patients Association (ELPA) and president of Slovenian Association for patients with viral hepatitis - Slovenija HEP. 

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He holds a Master’s degree in International Relationsa second Master’s degree in Business and Economics, and is certified as international NLP Trainer and NLP Coach.

He is closely involved in the development of ELPA strategy plan, ELPA work plan and budget, ELPA fundraising activities and ELPA Symposium preparation at International Liver Congress™ organised by EASL. He works in ELPA Horizon2020 activities as project leader of dissemination and communication of the project LIVERHOPE, project MICROB-PREDICT, project GALAXY, and also in the project EIT LIVERSCREEN funded by the European Institute for Innovation and Technology – section for Health. Marko is a member of the steering committee and trainer at ELPA University was a representative of ELPA in NoHEP movement for Europe. He is a member of EASL, International Communication Association (ICA), and International NLP Trainer Association (INLPTA).  

 In 2014 he wrote a book about his fight against hepatitis C with the title336 Days of Hope. He is constantly improving his knowledge in the field of health and patients (Harvard University – Improving Global Health, Yale University – Essentials of Global Health, John Hopkins University – Data Scientists Toolbox and specialization in Quality and Patient Safety). In 2017 he was selected by Economist Intelligence Unit as one of 18 most influential individuals and/or organisations in the fight against hepatitis C. 

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Milan Mishkovikj

Milan Mishkovikj, Msc. is the founder of Hepar Centar Bitola (Liver Center of Bitola), North Macedonia.  He currently serves as the organization’s Vice president and CEO.

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Milan is a faithful member of the Advisory Board Project; HAREACT (The Joint Action on HIV and Co-infection Prevention and Harm Reduction (HA-REACT) addresses existing gaps in the prevention of HIV and other co-infections, especially tuberculosis (TB) and viral hepatitis, among people who inject drugs (PWID). The three-year project was launched in late 2015 with core funding by the Health Program 2014-2020 from European Union (EU). Milan is also the founder/Vice President of the Alliance of Patients Organizations in N. Macedonia. Milan graciously attains the position as Director of the European Liver Patient Association (ELPA)

As a case manager and caregiver, he is integrally involved in the life struggles of an ordinary patient. His worth-noting initiatives involve creating a patient-centric solution to get feedback from real patients and making decisions based on their needs and perspectives. To innovate the healthcare system, he has a strong interest in executing novel strategies that may positively impact, either directly or indirectly, on timely screening, immunization, diagnostics, medical treatments, as well as the social welfare system.

He has great organizational skills, collaborates at an intellectual level with all types of media (PR) and healthcare related campaigns. He possesses excellent communication skills and can integrate well under stressful work environments as a team player and / or as a leader to conduct the work on numerous health projects. His input in improving the healthcare system is highly persistent.

His main goal is to initiate different healthcare concepts in the N. Macedonia, European and world healthcare systems. He believes all initiatives need to have a close collaboration and support from different stakeholders. This includes scientists, policy decision makers, patients, and industrial corporate partners.

His efforts need to be understood and supported by the international organizations (such as WHO, EU Commission). His actions are directed to inclusive and high-quality health recommendations at all levels, and the European dimension of health care for creating and maintaining a cohesive European society. Milan attained a master’s in civil law degree from St. Kliment Ohridski University in Bitola. Milan represents North Macedonia as a voting member to GIANT (Global Immunization Action Network Team) He currently resides in Bitola, Macedonia.

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Teresa Casanovas

Teresa Casanovas

Dr Teresa Casanovas is a hepatologist, President of the Spanish ELPA Member association ASSCAT, ELPA Director, and Leader of the ELPA Scientific Committee.

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She worked in Hospital of Bellvitge from 1980 to 2016. She focused her career on clinical care and research dedicated to liver diseases and liver patients. She was involved in the start of the Liver Transplant Program, the first in Spain. She participated, as principal investigator, in numerous clinical trials for patients with viral hepatitis (mostly with treatment interferon based). She also I received research grants for studies on health related quality of life (HRQOL) in liver patients. Since she retired she is been advocating for liver patients at national and international level.

Healthcare professionals

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Thomas Berg
Organiser

Prof. Thomas Berg completed his medical training at the Universities of Tübingen, Freiburg and Berlin, Germany. He specialiszed in internal medicine in 2001 and in Gastroenterology and Hepatology in 2007 at the University Medicine Berlin, and became a lecturer in this subject in 2002.

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In 2002, Professor Berg took up the position of Associate Director and Professor of Medicine at the Department of Hepatology and Gastroenterology of Charité, Campus Virchow-Clinic, University Medicine in Berlin, where he was Head of the Liver Out-Patient Clinic and the Laboratory for Molecular Hepatitis and Viral Diagnostics. Since December 2009, he has been the Head of the Section of Hepatology at the University Hospital in Leipzig, and since April 2020 Head of the Division of Hepatology, Department of Medicine II, Leipzig University Medical Center, Germany. He is Chair of the University Liver Tumor Center, and Vice-Chair of the University Liver Transplant Center Leipzig.

His clinical and translational research is focused on chronic viral hepatitis, liver transplantation, hepatocellular carcinoma, genetics in liver disease, and liver failure, and he participated in numerous national and international clinical trials.

He is Secretary General of the European Associations for the Study of the Liver (EASL), Board member of the EASL International Liver Foundation (EILF) and served the Journal of Hepatology as Co-Editor between 2014 and 2019. He is also member of the American (AASLD), European (EASL), and German (GASL) Associations for the Study of the Liver, The European Society for Organ Transplantation (ESOT), The European Liver and Intestine Transplant Association (ELITA), German Transplantation Society (DTG), Working Group Internal Oncology (AiO), Working Group Gastroenterological Oncology (AGO), German Cancer Society (DKG), German Society of Gastroenterology (DGVS), and the representative of the DGVS in the foundation council of the German liver foundation. He has published more than 350 articles in peer-reviewed journals and more than 100 reviews and textbook contributions. His h-index is 74 (Scopus).

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Maria Buti
Organiser

Maria Buti earned her medical degree at the University of Barcelona and her PhD in Internal Medicine at the University “Autónoma” de Barcelona, Spain. She is currently Professor of Medicine and Chief of Internal Medicine and Hepatology at the Hospital General Universitari Valle Hebron, Barcelona.

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Dr Buti has worked in viral hepatitis for the last 25 years, particularly in diagnosis and therapy of hepatitis B and C. She has been published widely in the field of liver disease, with numerous papers and contributions to books Dr Butí is the President of the Spanish Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, and an active member of the EASL, and  the AASLD and various professional societies.

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Mojca Matičič
Organiser

Mojca Matičič is Head of the Viral Hepatitis Unit and Head of the STI Outpatient Service at the Clinic for Infectious Diseases and Febrile Illnesses, University Medical Centre in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She is also a Full Professor of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ljubljana.

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After gaining her medical degree, Prof. Maticic specialised in internal medicine and in infectious diseases at the University of Ljubljana, before completing a masters and PhD in HIV/AIDS and HCV, respectively. Subsequently, she undertook international postdoctoral training at the Middlesex Hospital and Royal Free Hospital in London, UK. Prof. Maticic’s research interests focus on viral infections, primarily viral hepatitis, antiviral treatment and sexually transmitted infections (STIs).   

An active member of numerous professional societies including EASL (European association for the Study of the Liver), where she is a member of the Policy and Public Health Committee (PPHC), Hepatitis B&C Public Policy Association (HepB&C PPA), ESCMID (European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases), and INHSU (International Network for management of Hepatitis in Substance Users), she currently leads a hepatitis C study group at C-EHRN (Correlation-European Harm Reduction Network), serves as an advisor to WHO (World Health Organization) Europe, ECDC (European Center for Disease Control) and the VHPB (Viral Hepatitis Prevention Board). Prof. Maticic is also a member of the HIV/AIDS Committee of the Slovene Ministry of Health and a co-author of the National Strategy for the Management of HCV Infection in Slovenia (1997). She leads the Slovene National Viral Hepatitis Expert Board and co-authored the national clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of  HCV and HBV infections. She has authored or co-authored more than 450 articles in national and international peer-reviewed journals, EASL Policy and Position statements, and organised numerous national and international conferences. 

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Peter Galle

Dr. Galle majored in internal medicine at the Universities of Berlin and Marburg/Germany, Hammersmith Hospital, London/UK and University of Texas/USA and received his M.D. degree from Marburg University and Ph.D. degree from Heidelberg University.

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Initially he held a position as postdoctoral fellow in Molecular Biology at the Centre for Molecular Biology Heidelberg working on the replication of hepatitis B viruses. Afterwards he completed his residency in Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology at the University Hospital of Heidelberg. In 1998 he became Director of the I. Medical Department in Mainz and from 2005 – 2008 he hold the CEO position of Mainz University Hospital.

He is member of several national and international societies such as the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (AASLD) and the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), served as Co-editor for the Journal of Hepatology and is on the Editorial Boards of several other Journals. He served as congress president of the German Society for Digestive Diseases (DGVS) in 2014. He was member of the Executive Board and President of the International Liver Cancer Association (ILCA). He is President of the German association for the Study of the Liver (GASL) 2020

His research has focused on elucidating important aspects of apoptotic cell death in the liver, immune escape of tumour cells and on clinical and molecular aspects of hepatocellular carcinoma. He was awarded several prizes, amongst others the prestigious Tannhauser award, the highest prize of the German Society for Digestive Diseases. He has published more than 500 peer-reviewed papers.

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Peter Jepsen

Born in 1975, graduated from the medical school in Aarhus, Denmark in 2003. Since then clinical training and specialisation in hepatology, alongside training in clinical epidemiology.

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I have published more than 100 papers, most of them in the field of hepato-epidemiology. I currently do half-time clinical work, half-time research. My primary interests are alcoholic liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma, most notably the value of surveillance for hepatocellular carcinoma among patients with alcoholic cirrhosis.

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Pierre Nahon

Pierre Nahon is Professor of Hepatology at Jean Verdier Hospital in Bondy, APHP, France. He is also a clinical scientist at INSERM U1162, studying the constitutional genomics of liver cancer.

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Professor Nahon gained his medical degree from the University of Paris 13, before undertaking a PhD in biology. Subsequently he completed a Higher Degree for Research (HDR) at the University of Paris 13.

Professor Nahon’s research interests focus on the complications of cirrhosis, in particular hepatocellular carcinoma. He is the Scientific Coordinator of the French National Agency for Research on AIDS and Viral Hepatitis CO12 CirVir cohort, which is a prospective follow-up of nearly 1800 patients with compensated viral cirrhosis in 35 centres across France. This cohort allowed the achievement of numerous publications since 2015 in major international journals such as Journal of Hepatology, Hepatology, Gut and Gastroenterology. Professor Nahon is also the Coordinator of a GWAs within the Genetic work package of the French Hepatocellular Carcinoma Multi-technological Project (HECAM). More recently, he obtained funding for the implementation of a multicentric Phase 2 trial testing the efficacy of combining percutaneous electroporation with neo- and adjuvant immunotherapy for the treatment of hepatocellular carcinoma.

He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Hepatology and is an ad hoc reviewer for numerous other scientific journals including Gastroenterology, Gut, Hepatology, Cancer Research, Liver International, Annals of Oncology and Carcinogenesis.

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Maria Reig

My career in medicine started in 2001 when I graduated from medical school. I did my training in Internal Medicine in Castro Rendon Hospital (Neuquén, Patagonia) and then, moved to the Hospital Italiano in Buenos Aires where I did my Hepatology and Liver Transplantation training (2005-2007).

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In 2008 I moved to Barcelona to enter the BCLC, Liver Unit in Hospital Clínic of Barcelona as a pre-doctoral fellow and I have a faculty postion in the Liver Unit since 2016. Upon completion of a Master in Liver Research and a Degree in Statistics, I developed my Doctoral Thesis under the guidance of Professor Bruix. My area of interest has been the development of prognostic models for patients with liver cancer and evaluation of treatment options with special emphasis in systemic therapy. Additionally, I obtained a Degree in Immuno-Oncology at the University of Navarra that has facilitated the opening of a new area of research about immune modulation and cancer emergence after antiviral treatment. During my career focused in clinical research in liver cancer I have authored 58 manuscripts ORCID ID 0000-0002-5711-9534 with a total Impact Factor of 527.071 and an H-index=26. My current research at the Oncology Unit of Hospital Clinic is funded by competitive grants where I am the Principal Investigator and by grants and contracts where I am a main collaborator both at the national and international level. At the same time, I am responsible for the coordination of the educational events and short-term fellowship visits at the BCLC, while also being the mentor of three predoctoral trainees.

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