Avak KahvejianSpecial Speaker
Avak Kahvejian is a well-known biochemist engaged in entrepreneurial and managerial activities. He is the general partner of Flagship Pioneering, a prestigious healthcare company, leading a team dedicated to creating and launching new therapeutic platforms. Mr. Kahvejian has extensive and successful experience in the field of coordinating scientific innovative research aimed at preserving health and commercializing their results.
Viken Babikian, M.D.
Viken Babikian, M.D.Plenary Speaker
Dr. Viken Levon Babikian was born in Beirut, Lebanon, and graduated from the American University of Beirut School of Medicine. After completing his training at the University of Chicago Hospitals, in Chicago, and the Massachusetts General Hospital, in Boston, he joined the Department of Neurology at Boston University’s Chobanian and Avedisian School of Medicine, where he is a Professor of Neurology.
Dr. Babikian is a clinician and researcher, and his focus is on cerebral blood flow measurement and cerebrovascular disorders. He has published four textbooks and more than 150 research papers and book chapters in the field of stroke. He has given more than 140 national and international presentations.
Dr. Babikian is also the President of the Stroke Initiative Advisory Task Force for Armenia and a member of the Armenia Stroke Council’s Executive Body.
John Bilezikian, M.D. PhD(hon)
John Bilezikian, M.D. PhD(hon)Plenary Speaker
Professor of Medicine at the Vagelos College of Physicians & Surgeons, Columbia University, Vice Chair of the Department of Medicine for International Education and Research and Chief, Emeritus, of the Division of Endocrinology. He is Director, Emeritus, of the Metabolic Bone Diseases Program at Columbia University Medical Center.
He belongs to a number of professional societies including the American Society of Bone and Mineral Research, of which he served as President (ASBMR), 1995-1996 and the International Society of Clinical Densitometry (ISCD), of which he served as President, 1999-2001. He is a member of the Endocrine Society, the American Federation for Clinical Research, the American Society for Clinical Investigation, the Association of American Physicians, the American Association of Clinical Endocrinologists, the American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, and the American College of Endocrinology that has designated him Master. He served on the Board of Governors of the International Osteoporosis Foundation (1999-2015) and is a current member of its Committee of Scientific Advisors. He is Chair of the Endocrine Fellows Foundation. He served as Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism and as Senior Associate Editor of the Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. He is Executive Advisory Editor of Bone Research.
Prof. Bilezikian is the recipient of the numbers of awards. Among them, in 2018 he received a Parliamentary Medal of Honor from the Government of Armenia for distinguished service and a similar honor from the Government of Brazil. In 2019, he received the Gold Medal for Outstanding Achievements in Medical Research, the highest honor that Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons bestows on its graduates. In 2020, Dr. Bilezikian received the ASBMR William F. Neuman Award for highest scientific achievement.
Roger Hajjar, MD
Roger Hajjar, MDPlenary Speaker
Inaugural director of the Gene and Cell Therapy Program at Mass General Brigham.
Roger Hajjar received his BS in Biomedical Engineering from the Johns Hopkins University in and his MD from Harvard Medical School and the Harvard-MIT Division of Health Sciences & Technology. He completed his training in internal medicine, cardiology, heart failure/cardiac transplantation and research fellowships at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston where he then directed the Cardiology Laboratory of Integrative Physiology and Imaging. From 2007 to 2018, Dr. Hajjar was the Director of the Cardiovascular Research Center, and the Arthur & Janet C. Ross Professor of Medicine at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York. From 2019 to 2022, Dr. Hajjar was head of R&D at Ring Therapeutics, a Flagship Pioneering company.
Dr. Hajjar is an internationally renowned scientific leader in the field of gene therapy. His laboratory had validated a number of cardiac targets that led to the initiation and completion under his guidance of First-in-Human gene therapy trials in patients with heart failure.
He has authored over 500 publications and has received numerous awards for his achievements in the field cardiac gene therapy including the Young Investigator Award of the American Heart Association, the Doris Duke Clinical Scientist award, the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Johns Hopkins University, the American Heart Association Distinguished Achievement Award and the Thomas W. Smith Award of the American Heart Association.
He is the founder of multiple gene therapy companies, some of which have had successful exits.
Sharon Chekijian, MD
Sharon Chekijian, MDPlenary Speaker
Dr. Sharon Anoush Chekijian is an Associate Professor in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the Yale School of Medicine. She is a faculty member in the Section of Global Health and International Emergency Medicine.
Her research interests lie in global emergency medicine and include emergency care systems; development, unintentional injury prevention, as well as stroke and cardiac care in low and middle-income countries. Dr. Chekijian has led and participated in projects in the Republic of Armenia, Uganda, and Iraq. She has consulted for the World Bank and the US Department of State. She is an active member of the Stroke Initiative Advisory Task-Force for Armenia (SIATA) and the Armenian Stroke Council. She is a visiting professor at the National Institute of Health of Armenia. Dr. Chekijian was awarded a Fulbright in 2020 for her work to improve emergency care in Armenia by the establishment of a new emergency medicine residency program in cooperation with the National Institutes of Health of Armenia and the Turpanjian School of Public Health at the American University of Armenia.
She is deeply committed to patient experience, communication and humanism in medicine. Dr. Chekijian co-produced a film that addresses human rights as it relates to the Armenian Genocide of 1915 called “The Hidden Map” which aired nationally on PBS in the U.S. in 2022.
Nora Pashayan MD PhD FFPH
Nora Pashayan MD PhD FFPHPlenary Speaker
Nora Pashayan is a Professor of Applied Cancer Research & honorary Consultant in Public Health Medicine at the University College London. She is the Head of the UCL Department of Applied Health Research and the Director of Training for the International Alliance for Cancer Early Detection.
Nora has studied Biology followed by Medicine at the American University of Beirut. She has specialised in both Family Medicine and Public Health Medicine. She has completed Masters in Epidemiology from London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and in Public Health from the University of Cambridge, and PhD from the University of Cambridge on modelling the natural history of prostate cancer and implications of using genomics for cancer screening.
Nora’s research is in cancer screening, in risk-stratified screening, in developing screening strategies to improve the benefit harm balance and the cost-effectiveness of screening programmes and in ways of implementing such programmes.
Iacopo Baussano, MD, PhD
Iacopo Baussano, MD, PhDPlenary Speaker
International Agency for Research on Cancer – World Health Organization (IARC/WHO)
Dr․ Iacopo Baussano, infectious diseases physician (M.D. & CIDS) and epidemiologist (M.Sc., Ph.D.), is the Leader of the Public Decision Modelling Team, within the Early Detection, Prevention and Infections (EPR) Branch at the International Agency for Research on Cancer, World Health Organization (IARC/WHO), Lyon, France. Before joining the Agency in 2012, Dr․ Baussano worked at the Center for Oncologic Prevention in Turin, Italy, and at the School of Public Health of the Imperial College of London, UK, where his invеstigations were mostly focused on infectious disease control among vulnerable populations in both high and low/middle-income countries. In the field of cervical cancer control, he combines quantitative and predictive modelling with field-epidemiology to assess the impact of HPV vaccination and HPV-DNA based screening in both high and low/middle- income countries (LMICs). Dr․ Baussano is also actively engaged in knowledge and technology transfer from HICs to LMICs.
Bagrat G.Alekyan, MD, PhD
Bagrat G.Alekyan, MD, PhDPlenary Speaker
Bagrat G. Alekyan is a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Medical Sciences, Professor, expert in the field of endovascular surgery in cardiovascular disease. He graduated from the Faculty of Medicine of the Yerevan State Medical Institute. From 1975 to 2015 he worked at the Bakoulev Scientific Center for Cardiovascular Surgery. Since 2015 he has been the deputy director for innovative technologies of the A.V.Vishnevsky Institute of Surgery.
Since 1992 he has been the head of the department for Radiosurgical Diagnosis and Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease of the Bakoulev Scientific Center for Cardiovascular Surgery. In 2005 he became a correspondent member of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences and in 2011 – a member of the Russian Academy of Medical Sciences. Since 2014 Bagrat Alekyan has been a member of the Russian Academy of Sciences.
Bagrat Alekyan has performed almost all endovascular surgery on children with heart disease in Russia. He was the first Russian doctor to perform balloon expansion surgery for newborn’s aortic valve stenosis, for closure of patent ductus arteriosus using the Gianturco method, for narrowed pulmonary valve stenting, for aorta angusta and recoarctation of the aorta and many other kinds of surgery.
Bagrat Alekyan is the chief external expert of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation in roentgen-endovascular diagnosis and treatment, the Chairman of the Russian Scientific Society of Endovascular Therapies. He is the author of 700 academic works, including 11 monographs and books, co-author of numerous books published outside Russia. Eight doctoral and 46 master’s theses were defended under his supervision and scientific direction.
In 2000 Bagrat Alekyan was awarded a silver Burakovsky medal for outstanding achievements in training of young specialists in cardiovascular surgery. In 2001 he received a gold Burakovsky medal for outstanding achievements in diagnosis and treatment of cardiovascular disease. 2006 by Decree of the President of the Russian Federation was awarded the Order of Friendship and in 2014 - the Order of Honor. In 2015 Bagrat Alekyan received the Russian Federation Government Prize for Science and Technology. In 2021 Bagrat Alekyan was awarded the Order of Alexander Nevsky.
Shant ShekherdimianPlenary Speaker
Dr. Shant Shekherdimian was born and raised in Los Angeles, California. His educational background includes a medical degree from Drexel University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and a Masters in Public Health with an emphasis on global health from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Shekherdimian has completed a residency in general surgery at UCLA and a fellowship in pediatric surgery at the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto, Canada. He is currently an Associate Professor of Surgery at UCLA.
Dr. Shekherdimian has dedicated most of his academic pursuits to global health research and involvement in health systems strengthening in Armenia. He has mentored over 30 students and trainees in this field, and is a recipient of a Fulbright U.S. Scholars award for his research on developing national cancer screening programs in Armenia. In 2021, Dr. Shekherdimian was appointed Associate Director for Healthcare Outreach for the Promise Armenian Institute at UCLA. Following this appointment, he moved to Armenia to serve as an advisor to the Ministry of Health, where he has been involved in efforts to develop national primary care strengthening and quality improvement strategies.
Wayne W. Grody, M.D., Ph.D.
Wayne W. Grody, M.D., Ph.D.Plenary Speaker
Wayne W. Grody, M.D., Ph.D. is a Professor in the Departments of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, Pediatrics, and Human Genetics, and the Institute for Society and Genetics, at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA.
He is the director of the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratories and the Clinical Genomics Center within the UCLA Health, one of the first such facilities in the country to offer DNA-based tests for diagnosis of a wide variety of genetic, infectious, and neoplastic diseases, as well as bone marrow engraftment, patient specimen identification and paternity testing by DNA fingerprinting, and clinical genomic DNA sequencing for undiagnosed disorders. He is also an attending physician in the Department of Pediatrics, specializing in the care of patients with or at risk for genetic disorders (with a special interest in familial Mediterranean fever, among others), and director of the UCLA Intercampus Medical Genetics Training Program.
In addition, he is heavily involved in basic molecular genetics research involving regulation of gene expression of
arginase and related enzymes in hereditary arginase deficiency and various cancers, population molecular genetic
screening, and genomic approaches to hereditary disease pathogenesis. He has been one of the primary developers of quality assurance and ethical guidelines for DNA-based genetic testing for a large number of governmental and
professional agencies including the FDA, AMA, CAP, ACMG, ASHG, NCCLS/CLSI, CDC, AMP, VA, ACGME, and
the NIH-DOE Human Genome Project (ELSI program).
He served as a member of the NIH-DOE Task Force on Genetic Testing, and was the working group chair for
development of national guidelines for cystic fibrosis and factor V-Leiden mutation screening. He served for five years as founding chair of the Advisory Committee on Genomic Medicine for the entire Veterans of America healthcare system, and is Past President of the American College of Medical Genetics. He was the expert witness for the American Civil Liberties Union in the historic Supreme Court case that invalidated patenting of human genes.
Recent awards include the Lifetime Achievement Award from the College of American Pathologists, the Ward Burdick Award for Distinguished Service from the American Society for Clinical Pathology, the Bowes Award Lectureship at Harvard Medical School, the Roscher Endowed Lectureship of the International College of Surgeons, the Leadership Award from the Association for Molecular Pathology, the UCLA Clinical Teaching Award, and election as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
As a sidelight, Dr. Grody has been active in the film and television industries for many years, first as film critic for MD
Magazine, a national leisure journal for physicians, then as technical advisor and sometime writer for a number of feature films, TV movies, and television series including Life Goes On, Chicago Hope, CSI, Medium, Law and Order, Heroes, Grey’s Anatomy, WHAT/IF, Chicago Med, Virgin River, and both Nutty Professor movies. He did his undergraduate work at Johns Hopkins University, received his M.D. and Ph.D. at Baylor College of Medicine, and completed residency and fellowship training at UCLA. He is double-board-certified by the American Board of Pathology (Anatomic and Clinical Pathology, Molecular Genetic Pathology) and the American Board of Medical Genetics (Clinical Genetics, Molecular Genetics, Biochemical Genetics).
Haroutune K. Armenian, MD, DrPH
Haroutune K. Armenian, MD, DrPHPlenary Speaker
Professor, AUA Turpanjian College of Health Sciences (CHS),
President Emeritus, American University of Armenia (AUA),
Professor-in-Residence of Epidemiology, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, University of California at Los Angeles,
Professor Emeritus, Johns Hopkins University
Dr. Haroutune K. Armenian is Professor in Residence of epidemiology at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and was the Associate Dean of Academic Programs; he is Professor Emeritus at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health where he received his MPH, and Dr.P.H. degrees (1972-4) and his M.D. from the American University of Beirut in 1968 where he has specialized in internal medicine. His career in epidemiology has spanned a number of countries and regions of the world. He has special interests in the application of epidemiologic methods to health services research and chronic diseases. He is one of the earliest to apply epidemiologic methods to study the effects of the civil war at the population level during the 1980s in Lebanon, and the long-term effects of the 1988 earthquake in Armenia. In the 1980s, he pioneered epidemiologic research by using Armenian Church parish records to study infant mortality as well as other health indicators in 16 diasporan countries over a timeframe of 300 years. More recent research includes the 23 year follow up of the survivors of the earthquake in Armenia. Dr. Armenian’s academic and development leadership has included program development at the Ministry of Health in Bahrain, Dean of the Faculty of Health Sciences at the American University of Beirut, Director of the MPH Program at the Johns Hopkins University, and Dean of the College of Health Sciences at the American University of Armenia. Dr. Armenian is President Emeritus of the American University of Armenia (AUA). As President of the AUA for fourteen years, he was at the forefront of the establishment of novel educational and development programs in Armenia and the Middle East. Recent awards include the Ernest Lyman Stebbins Medal for Excellence in Education and the Golden Apple Award for Excellence in Teaching from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, the Movses Khorenatsi Presidential Medal of Service in 2001 from the Republic of Armenia, Presidential Medal of the Order of Cedars from the Republic of Lebanon, and membership in the Alpha Omega Alpha medical and Delta Omega public health honorary societies. Dr. Armenian is also a fellow of the Royal College of Physicians in London, and a member of the American Epidemiological Society. He has been on the central executive council of the Armenian Church in Lebanon as well as on the executive of the Hamazkaine Cultural Association and the Karageuzian Foundation. Dr. Armenian has been for 15 years the Editor in Chief of Epidemiologic Reviews and on the editorial board of a number of professional journals and publications. He has published over 100 scientific papers and peer reviewed chapters as well as 20 books. He recently published two collections of his watercolors and prose-poetry in Armenian and English: Colors and Words and Past Here Does Not Yet Melt. The latter was composed while they climbed Mount Ararat in an AUA expedition led by Sona Armenian to Ararat and Western Armenia in 2006. In 2009 he published a new textbook on the Design and Applications of the Case-Control Method at Oxford University Press, and became the supervisor of the Chair in Epidemiology and Public Health at the King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. In Armenia, he continues to lead the Entrepreneurship in Health project and Turpanjian Rural Development Program with over 550 businesses established in the villages and 1150 people trained in entrepreneurship.
Ruben VardanyanPlenary Speaker
Ruben Vardanyan is a public figure, politician, social entrepreneur, and venture philanthropist. From November 4, 2022 to February 23, 2023, he held the position of State Minister of the Republic of Artsakh.
He is one of the founders of the Russian stock market; co-founder and partner of anumber of global projects; a member of a number of large companies, educational institutions, professional and expert organizations, and management and advisory boards; and the recipient of local and international awards.
Among Ruben Vardanyan's most significant projects are the Troika Dialog investment company, SKOLKOVO business school, and the Phoenix Advisors and PhilinPhilgood companies in Russia. In Armenia, his notable projects include the UWC Dilijan International College, Foundation for Armenian Science and Technology (FAST), “Wings of Tatev” aerial tramway, "Matena" leadership school, Aurora Humanitarian Initiative, "We are our Mountains" Territorial Development Agency to support residents of the unrecognized Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, the FUTURE ARMENIAN public initiative, and more.
For more than 30 years, Ruben and his family, together with partners from around the world, have invested over 1.5 billion dollars in key areas of human development: global education, health care, achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), solving humanitarian problems, heritage, and initiatives for the development of philanthropic traditions.
Ruben Vardanyan presented his views on the world in the 21st century and on the future of Armenia and Armenians in his manuscript “At the Crossroads: Time for Decisions”, collaborating with Nuné Alekyan and with the participation of Noubar Afeyan, his main partner in many projects. This work gave rise to the Armenia-2041 project and the elaboration of a long- term strategy for the development of the country until 2041.
Vardanyan's professional merits and public activities have been recognized numerous times with prestigious international prizes and awards, including the Order of St. Mesrop Mashtots, which was awarded for his protection of national interests and long-term and fruitful activities for the sake of Armenia, as well as the highest award bestowed by the Armenian Apostolic Church, the Order of Saint Gregory the Illuminator.