5th Annual Microbiology and Immunology Virtual Event


LabRoots kicked off its two-day Microbiology and Immunology Virtual Event on September 11 detailing exciting new research in pharmaceuticals, medicine, agriculture, and space. The webinars cover a wide range of topics from the application of metagenomics in infectious disease to advances in our understanding of molecular mechanisms in virology.

Once the gold standard for microbiological research, culturing for microorganisms has gone by the wayside; genetic sequencing has increased our understanding of the importance of microbes to our health and well-being as well as the diseases they cause. View the webinars, visit the exhibit and poster halls, and make new connections in the networking lounge all at your convenience and in the comfort of your home/office.

The opening keynote presentation, Mining Athlete Microbiomes for Next-Generation Probiotics, was delivered by Jonathan Scheiman, PhD. Dr. Scheiman is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of FitBiomics, a startup that is “sequencing the microbiome of elite athletes to identify and isolate next-generation probiotics for applications in consumer health and nutrition.” In his presentation, he discusses the distinct microorganisms found in elite athletes, which differ during the performance and recovery phases of competition. Recent research that he performed while a postdoctoral student at Harvard concerning a microbe that “eats” lactic acid and promotes endurance in athletes was published in Nature Medicine.

John Thomas, PhD, Professor Emeritus at WVU School of Medicine, has extensive experience in clinical microbiology and has lectured in more than 43 countries. He is also certified as a High Complexity Clinical Laboratory Director (HCLD)(ABB). Dr. Thomas introduces us, in his keynote presentation, Microbial Centric Aging: A Paradigm Shift, to the possible associations between the gut microbiota, the brain, and age-related diseases.


Metagenomic analysis is a complex process that is still evolving. The incomplete databases of known microorganisms complicate it further as noted in the webinar, Using Metagenomics and Bioinformatics to Investigate Bacterial-Fungal Interactions.  Patrick Chain, PhD, who is a scientist at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, directs both the Metagenomics Applications and the Bioinformatics and Analytics Teams. His current research involves the molecular interactions between bacteria and fungi as well as the bacterial genomic signature or “microbiome” present on the hyphae of fungi.

In a three-part presentation, Using the NASA GeneLab Data System to Study the Metagenomes of Spaceships and Their Occupants, scientists, Jonathan M. Galazka, PhD, Daniela Bezdan, PhD, and  Peng Jiang, PhD, discuss the significance of GeneLab in the study of microbiota found in spacecraft and space-flown animals. GeneLab contains metagenomics data that can be downloaded for future research. Also discussed in this webinar are the effects of spaceflight on the GI tract and the sequencing of infectious organisms found in hospitals, the International Space Station, and NASA clean rooms.

Jennifer Fettweis, PhD is the founder and director of the Research Alliance for Microbiome Science (RAMS) Registry and assistant professor at Virginia Commonwealth University. She presents current research into the development of multi-omic technologies including “16S rRNA surveys, metagenomics, metatranscriptomics, metaproteomics, and metabolomics.” The webinar,

Microbial Communities Multi-Omic Approaches for the Study of Vaginal Microbial Communities covers challenges and opportunities encountered in developing new assays and analytical methods.

Emergency Diagnostics

Identifying and recognizing life-threatening infections such as meningitis and encephalitis and the organisms that cause them necessitates rapid assessment methods. While they don’t usually involve mixed infections, the application of metagenomics in complex samples that do have more than one pathogen allows for accurate screening, diagnosis, and treatment. View the two webinars given by Kevin Alby, PhD, D(ABMM) and Kin Kuok, PhD to learn more in-depth information about rapid diagnostic technologies currently in development.

New Methods and Emerging Trends

Manica Balasegaram, BMed Sci, BMBS, DTM&H, MSc, FRCP, is the Executive Director of Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership (GARDP), a non-profit organization that addresses antibiotic resistance and the development of new drugs to treat infections caused by resistant pathogens. Dr. Balasegaram discusses information about five new treatments in his presentation, New Approaches to Vaccines Find Out How GARDP Is Redoubling Its Efforts to Accelerate the Development and Delivery of New and Improved Antibiotics.

New Insights into Virology               

Astroviruses have been shown to be more prevalent than noroviruses in diarrheal illness in the pediatric oncology population. Stacey Schultz-Cherry, PhD, Professor of the Department of Infectious Diseases at St Jude Children’s Research Hospital explores the pathophysiology and importance of astroviruses in her presentation, Understanding Astrovirus Pathogenesis: Who Knew Viruses Had Toxins?

Susan Hafenstein, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at Pennsylvania State University where she also works as the Director of Cryo-EM Imaging Facility. Her research interests include utilizing cryo electron microscopy to examine the interactions of viruses within their hosts. In her presentation, Advances in Structural Virology Structural Analysis to Understand the Molecular Mechanism for CPV Species-Jump, Dr. Hafenstein looks at canine parvovirus and the underlying mechanisms involved in viral binding receptors that may be responsible for pathogens “jumping” to other species.

Finally, Ann Palmenberg, PhD tackles a topic relevant to this virtual event in her discussion of Gender Parity in Virology Conference Speaker Selections. In 2017, a report with extensive supportive data showed that women have been significantly underrepresented as speakers at virology conferences over the past 35 years. Dr. Palmenberg examines ways that transparency in the selection processes of conference speakers can eliminate biases that have contributed to these disparities.

In addition to the numerous webinars available, our exhibit and poster halls offer insights into novel advances in microbiology and immunology technology. Posters can be downloaded by event participants to share with colleagues or to aid in further research possibilities.

Although the posters provide exciting new research in areas of microbiology and immunology, they have not been peer-reviewed by other experts in their respective fields.

LabRoots consistently strives to offer a well-rounded and wide range of topics for each of its virtual events to provide scientists and students the most up-to-date research information available

This entire virtual event is available On-Demand for six months.

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