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2023 Symposium on Listeria monocytogenes in Food: Speaker Biographies

Achim Schmalenberger

Presentation title: Growth of Listeria monocytogenes on spinach and rocket leaves is affected by cultivation conditions and the vegetable phytobiome

Dr. Schmalenberger graduated from the University of Hannover and completed his PhD at the Federal Agricultural Research Centre and the Technological University Braunschweig, where he investigated the microbial communities of transgenic crops. He continued his postdoctoral research at the University of Bayreuth, the University of Manchester (UK) and the University of Sheffield (UK) where he focussed his attention on the abilities of soil microbes to mobilize otherwise plant unavailable nutrients. Dr. Schmalenberger took up a lecturer position at the University of Limerick in 2010 where he expanded his research, studying Listeria monocytogenes growth conditions on fruit and vegetables.


Ana Allende

Presentation title: Listeria monocytogenes in the processing environment of fruits and vegetables: The known knowns and the known unknowns of environment contamination. 

Dr. Ana Allende from CEBAS-CSIC (Spanish National Research Council) in Spain is a Senior Researcher with focus on safety of fresh produce. She obtained her PhD in Food Science and Technology at the University of Cartagena, (Spain). She holds several positions in (inter)-national institutions including vice-chair of the BIOHAZ panel at the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), vice-director of the CEBAS-CSIC, and Member of the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Meetings on Microbiological Risk Assessment (JEMRA) Roster of Experts. She has published more than 230 research articles in peer-reviewed international journals focused on the safety of fresh produce with about 8500 cites. Her current H index is 53.


Antonio Lourenco

Presentation title: Bacterial Biofilms: Challenges and opportunities for their detection and study

Antonio Lourenco graduated in 2005 with B.Eng. in Food Engineering bfrom the Agronomy School at the University of Lisbon, Portugal. In 2009, he graduated from the NOVA University Lisbon with an MSc in Food Technology & Quality and in 2014 with a PhD in Food Engineering from the University of Lisbon. During his PhD, Antonio conducted research stays at the University of Georgia, University of Florida and at The University of Edinburgh. After his PhD, Antonio took on a position as Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Minnesota. In 2017, Antonio joined Teagasc and was recently a Marie Curie fellow between Teagasc and at the University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna (Austria).


Birgitte H. Kallipolitis

Presentation title: Disarming Listeria monocytogenes of its virulence factors using medium- and long-chain fatty acids

Birgitte H. Kallipolitis holds a position as Professor of Molecular Microbiology at University of Southern Denmark and serves as Head of Research Unit for Molecular Microbiology. Her research group aims to uncover how pathogenic bacteria sense and respond to hostile conditions encountered in the external environment and during infection of a host organism. In ongoing projects, the Kallipolitis-group explores the anti-infective activities of medium- and long-chain free fatty acids against Listeria monocytogenes.



Conor O'Byrne

Presentation title: New insights into food preservation stress responses in Listeria monocytogenes using comparative genomics

Director of the Bacterial Stress Response Group, Senior lecturer in Microbiology at the University of Galway. The research focus in my group is on the molecular mechanisms that food-borne bacterial pathogens use to sense and respond to harsh conditions in their environment. Pathogens encounter major physicochemical changes as they transition from food into the host, particularly in relation to pH, osmolarity, oxygen concentration, light and temperature. Understanding how pathogenic bacteria detect and respond to these changes is critical if we are to devise sensible strategies to prevent their entry into the food chain and to prevent infections from arising in the human population. In my laboratory we study two important food-borne pathogens, Listeria monocytogenes and Escherichia coli.


Cormac Gahan

Presentation title: The gastrointestinal phase of Listeria monocytogenes infection

Prof. Cormac Gahan is a member of faculty in the School of Microbiology and a PI within the APC Microbiome Institute in University College Cork. Prof. Gahan has an interest in how the gut microbiome contributes to the health of the host; through the metabolism of bile acids and the influence of the gut microbiota on Colonization Resistance against gut pathogens including Listeria monocytogenes. Prof. Gahan currently co-ordinates the EU H2020 funded ITN training Network ‘COL_RES’ which examines colonization resistance against a variety of pathogens. His work has been published in numerous journals in the field including Gut Microbes, Microbiome, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and Plos Pathogens.


Edward Fox

Presentation title: The diverse ecology of Listeria monocytogenes - niche adaptation for different lifestyles

Dr Edward Fox is a Senior Lecturer at Northumbria University, working within the Food and Nutrition Program of the Department of Applied Sciences. He received his BSc (Hons) in Biotechnology from Dublin City University, and undertook his PhD at the Teagasc Moorepark Food Research Centre in Ireland, in the area of microbial food safety. Following a Newman Fellowship at University College Dublin’s Centre for Food Safety, he held a Senior Research Scientist position at the Australian government’s scientific research organisations, CSIRO, before moving to Northumbria. His research examines the ecology and control of foodborne pathogens through food supply chains, with a particular focus on bacterial species such as Listeria monocytogenes and Staphylococcus aureus. His work utilises omics approaches to understand the genetic mechanisms that contribute to the ability of these organisms to persist in food chains, and genetic mechanisms of significance to associated public health, such as virulence and antimicrobial resistance.

Fabian M. Commichau

Presentation title: Cyclic di-AMP, an essential signaling nucleotide of central metabolism and osmolyte homeostasis in Listeria monocytogenes

Fabian Commichau studied biology at the RWTH Aachen, Germany, and obtained a Ph.D. in microbiology at the University of Göttingen. After postdoc stays at the University of Göttingen and the University of Basel he was working for 2 years in industry at DSM Nutritional Products Ltd., Kaiseraugst. In 2011 he became a group leader at the Dept. of General Microbiology at the University of Göttingen and obtained his habilitation. From 2019 till 2022 he held the professorship for Synthetic Microbiology at the BTU Cottbus-Senftenberg and since 2022 he has been a professor for Molecular Microbiology at the University of Hohenheim.

Federica D'Onofrio

Presentation title: Proteomic profiling of a virulent Listeria monocytogenes strain grown under several stress conditions.

Ms D’Onofrio has a Masters degree in Food Science and Technologies from the University of Study of Teramo - Faculty of Bioscience and Technology for Food Agriculture and Environment. She is currently completing her PhD studies at the University of Study of Teramo - Faculty of Bioscience and Technology for Food Agriculture and Environment.  Her research studies are in collaboration with the “Istituto Zooprofilattico Sperimentale dell’Abruzzo e del Molise”, Teramo, Food Hygiene Department, who are the national reference laboratory for Listeria monocytogenes.  Her work focusses on the analysis of Listeria monocytogenes virulence factors by proteomic and transcriptomic techniques. She is currently working as an exchange researcher at University College of Dublin - UCD Centre for Food Safety

Jesus Frias

Presentation title: Predictive modelling of Listeria monocytogenes: Integrative models and variability

Jesus Maria Frias Celayeta holds a BSc of Food Science and Technology from the Basque Country University and a PhD from the Catholic University of Portugal. He is presently Professor and Academic Leader of the Environmental Sustainability and Health Institute at the Technological University Dublin where he leads one of the five research infrastructures supporting PhD training and research in TU Dublin. Prof Frias is a member of the Institute of Food Technologists, the Institute of Food Science and Technology Ireland and the Iseki Food Association, He's the Editor in Chief of the International Journal of Food Studies from the Iseki Food Association. His research focuses on making an impact on the safety quality, shelf life and waste in fresh horticultural products, with applied mathematical models. He also collaborates where model building and kinetics may be a relevant part of the research challenge.

Jörgen Johansson

Presentation title: Novel antibacterials targeting the transcriptional regulators PrfA and BrtA

Prof. Jörgen Johansson defended his PhD at Umeå University, Sweden in 2000, working with gene-regulation in E. coli. The same year he started as a postdoc at Institut Pasteur, working in the group of Prof. Pascale Cossart with RNA-mediated virulence regulation in Listeria monocytogenes. In 2003, Prof. Johansson returned to Umeå University to start his own group continuing working with Listeria. His research interests spans RNA-mediated (virulence) regulation, bacterial stress-sensing and development of new types of antibacterial drugs, targeting bacterial viability and/or virulence. In 2016, Prof. Johansson performed a 3-month sabbatical in the group of Prof. Conor O’Byrne at the National University of Ireland, Galway working with bacterial stress-sensing. 

Kaye Burgess

Presentation title: Supporting the fresh produce sector to prevent Listeria monocytogenes contamination

Dr Kaye Burgess is a molecular microbiologist and Senior Research Officer at Teagasc Food Research Centre in Ashtown, Dublin. Kaye’s research focus is on understanding the behaviour and transmission of foodborne pathogens and antimicrobial resistant microorganisms along the farm to fork chain. She is particularly interested in the role that stresses encountered in the food chain may have on the adaptation and persistence of foodborne pathogens, as well as the influence of diverse microbial communities on pathogen persistence. She has experience working with foodborne pathogens including Shiga toxin producing E. coli, Salmonella, Listeria monocytogenes and Campylobacter amongst others. She currently coordinates and participates in a number of DAFM and EPA funded projects and was a work group leader on the recently completed EU FP7 project AQUAVALENS. Dr Burgess is on the management committee of the EU COST Action HUPLANTcontrol which is focused on the control of human pathogens in plant production systems.  She is currently a host mentor for the Enterprise Ireland-Marie Skłodowska Curie CareerFit programme.

Marjon Wells-Bennik

Presentation title: Listeria monocytogenes in cheese - a model for determining the level of undissociated lactic acid in cheese and predicting complete growth inhibition

Dr. Marjon Wells-Bennik is Principal Scientist at NIZO and a visiting scientist at Wageningen University. NIZO conducts contract research for leading food and health companies with a mission to contribute to better food and health and sustainable food production. NIZO's food quality and risk assessment team helps customers accelerate innovation and produce safe food with reliable processes thereby protecting image and brands and reducing food waste. Marjon’s extensive expertise and background in food safety and quality was shaped by her PhD at Wageningen University, Postdoc at Harvard University, work at FBR (Wageningen), Quadram (Norwich), and NIZO over the past 18 years.

Martin Cormican

Presentation title: Listeriosis- an Irish clinical perspective

Martin Cormican graduated from the Medical School of the University of Galway in 1986. His postgraduate training was in Ireland, UK and USA. Since 1999 he has been Professor of Bacteriology in the University of Galway and Consultant Microbiologist in Galway University Hospital. He has been director of the National Reference Laboratory service for Salmonella, Shigella and Listeria monocytogenes since the service was established in 2000.

Mary Lenahan

Dr Mary Lenahan has been working with the Biological Safety team in the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) for over 7 years. In her current role as Acting Senior Technical Executive, she provides technical support and guidance to food businesses and official agency staff regarding microbiological issues such as food legislation, shelf-life of foods and risk assessment of microbiological hazards. Her previous experience includes working with both the private and public sectors on various research projects concerning food safety, and sales to microbiology labs in the Irish food and veterinary industry. Mary has a BSc in Nutritional Sciences from University College Cork and a PhD in Microbiological Food Safety attained from the University College Dublin in association with the Teagasc Food Research Centre (Ashtown).

Michael Callanan

Presentation title: Growth of Listeria in plant based milk alternatives

Dr. Michael Callanan qualified with PhD in Microbiology from UCC in 1996 and spent five years completing postdoctoral studies in Massey University, New Zealand and North Carolina State University, USA, followed by 5 years working on microbial genomics at Teagasc Food Research Centre, Moorepark. In 2007 he moved into industry working for Glanbia Nutritionals in Kilkenny before being recruited to the Nestlé Research Centre (NRC) in Lausanne in 2010. At the NRC, he was responsible for managing several large R&D projects focused on food quality and safety. He has continued to work on food quality and safety since returning to Ireland to teach at Munster Technological University in January 2016.

Nick Andrews

Presentation title: Utilising WGS to predict the heightened risk to food producers of certain Listeria monocytogenes strains

Nick Andrews is Head of Food Safety and Quality for Dawn Farm Foods, Europe’s largest multi-species producer of cooked and fermented meat and flexitarian ingredients. A Chartered Engineer, he holds a primary degree in science from Liverpool University and has worked in various roles in manufacturing industry for over 30 years. Nick heads a team of food safety and science professionals in assuring the production of safe ready-to-eat foods and safeguarding the brands of Dawn’s clients. A long-term research collaborator with UCD-CFS, he has a particular interest in the scientific management of food risks and precision food safety.


Peter Myintzaw

Presentation title: Growth behaviour of Listeria monocytogenes in semi-soft  rind-ripened artisinal cheese at cold chain and abuse temperatures

Dr Peter Myintzaw is a postdoctoral food safety microbiologist working in Food Biosciences Department at Teagasc Moorepark Co Cork Ireland. He holds a BSc (Hons) in Nutrition and Health Science from Munster Technological University and an MSc in Food Safety Management from Technological University Dublin. Prior to joining Teagasc, he completed his PhD from MTU on “Harnessing genomic and phenotypic diversity of Listeria monocytogenes to improve food safety”. He also previously worked as a food analyst at Devenish Nutrition Company, based at University College Dublin. His current postdoctoral scientist work focuses on foodborne pathogens’ stress tolerance, challenge studies, food matrices, sterility testing, predictive modelling, pan-genome analyses, and comparative genomics.