The Keynote Speakers

Dr Diana Bautista

An Associate Professor in the Department of Molecular and Cell Biology and the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute at the University of California, Berkeley.

She received her bachelor’s degree in Biology & Biochemistry from the University of Oregon, her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Stanford University with Dr. Rich Lewis and was a postdoctoral fellow in Physiology at the University of California, San Francisco with Dr. David Julius. She joined the faculty at UC Berkeley in 2008. Dr. Bautista’s lab studies the molecular and cellular mechanisms of itch, touch and pain, under normal and disease conditions. Her research has been funded by the NIH since 2009 and her work has been recognized by numerous awards, including the 2014 Society for Neuroscience Young Investigator Award, a 2016 Howard Hughes Medical Institute Scholar Award and the 2017 Gill Transformative Investigator Award. Her current research is focused on neuroimmune interactions in chronic pain and itch.


Dr Rachel R. Caspi

A tenured senior investigator, Section Head and Chief of the Laboratory of Immunology, National Eye Institute, NIH.

She also holds an Adjunct Professorship at the University of Pennsylvannia Sch. Med. Dr. Caspi’s research centers on immunological processes affecting immunity and autoimmunity in the eye. Her lab developed animal models of autoimmune uveitis, a sight threatening disease in humans, which are used worldwide to study basic mechanisms and therapeutic approaches. Her recent work emphasizes the role of the gut commensal microbiome in uveitis. Another area of interest is mucosal immunology of the ocular surface and the role of commensal bacteria in local immune homeostasis and host defense. Dr. Caspi is the recipient of the 2010 Friedenwald award, the 2012 Alcon Research Institute award and the 2017 Society for Leukocyte Biology Women and Diversity Paper of the Year award. She has authored and co-authored 250 publications.


Professor Gerald Fuller

The Fletcher Jones Professor of Chemical Engineering at Stanford University.

He joined Stanford in 1980 following his graduate work at Caltech where he acquired his MS and PhD degrees. His undergraduate education was obtained at the University of Calgary, Canada. Professor Fuller’s interests lie in studies of rheology and interfacial fluid mechanics. His work has been recognized by receipt of the Bingham Medal of The Society of Rheology, membership in the National Academy of Engineering, election to the American Academy of Arts and Science, and honorary doctorates from the Universities of Crete, Greece, and Leuven, Belgium. He presently serves as the General Secretary to the International Committee on Rheology.


Dr Maria Liu

An associate professor of clinical optometry at UC Berkeley School of Optometry.

She is the founder and chief of the UC Berkeley Myopia Control Clinic – the first of its kind in a teaching clinic, which now serves as a model for optometry schools across the country. Originally from Beijing, Dr. Liu practiced as an ophthalmologist in China before relocating to the United States in 2000. She obtained her MBA prior to her OD training at Pacific University, College of Optometry. Dr. Liu also completed an MPH with emphasis in biostatistics and clinical study design and a PhD in physiological optics at UC Berkeley. The main emphasis of her research and clinical expertise has been on the investigation and utilization of novel contact lens designs and pharmaceuticals in myopia control.  Dr. Liu enjoys teaching both in didactic and clinical settings. She has years of experience in teaching basic and clinical pharmacology, ocular disease, epidemiology, as well as comparative studies on the similarity and difference of primary vision care in developed vs. developing countries. Last but not the least, Dr. Liu is very enthusiastic about humanitarian services and helped organize as well as served as the attending doctor for multiple VOSH (Volunteer Optometric Services to Humanity) trips to China.


Dr Arun Prakash

An Associate Professor in Residence at the University of California San Francisco.

I practice clinical medicine and run a research laboratory studying lung injury. Our laboratory investigates the molecular and cellular mechanisms underpinning lung inflammation. These projects are part of our long-term goals to study the interface between sterile and infectious inflammation and explore specific contexts in which the inflammation may be beneficial or detrimental to the host. Our other ongoing studies focus on the gut-lung immune axis of communication and the role of the gut microbiome and specific short-chain fatty acid metabolites that can influence lung inflammatory responses. Clinically, I provide anesthesia care for severely injured trauma patients at San Francisco General Hospital, which is the primary trauma hospital in San Francisco.


Professor Gordon Wallace

His specialty is design and discovery of advanced materials for application in energy and health.

In health – new materials to improve human performance. In energy – new materials to transform and store energy, including novel wearable and implantable energy systems for medical technologies. He is committed to fundamental research and translation of discoveries into practical applications. In 2017 he was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia, received Wollongong’s award for Innovation, served as Wollongong’s Australia Day Ambassador and named NSW Scientist of the Year. In 2016 he received the Eureka Prize for Leadership in Science and Innovation and 2015 was appointed to the Prime Ministers Knowledge Nation 100. Gordon is a Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science, Australian Academy of Technological Sciences and Engineering, Institute of Physics, and Royal Australian Chemical Institute. He is a corresponding member of the Academy of Science in Bologna.