NOhep Medical professional Visionaries

European Region

Are you a medical professional working in the field of hepatitis and are taking actions to eliminate this global killer? If so, we invite you to join other medical professionals from across the world who have committed to taking actions to accelerate this goal.

Dr Alessio Aghemo

1st Division of Gastroenterology Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore
Via Francesco Sforza 35 20122 Milano, Italy
What does the elimination of viral hepatitis mean to you?
It is the goal of a lifetime. As someone who has seen many patients dying from viral hepatitis, curing all of them and preventing new cases would be the ultimate achievement.

Alessio Aghemo received his medical degree from the University of Milan in 2001, where he also specialized in gastroenterology and later completed his post-doctoral research in gastroenterology.  He works at the Gastroenterology and Hepatology Unit at the Fondazione IRCCS Ca’ Granda, Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, University of Milan. Dr. Aghemo has published more than 150 peer reviewed papers and is involved in many national and international clinical trials on the treatment of chronic Hepatitis C. He has contributed to the European and Italian clinical practice guidelines on the management and treatment of patients with chronic hepatitis C. From 2013 to 2016 he has served on the EASL governing board member. Dr Aghemo has been involved in several activities targeted at HCV elimination ranging from treatment guidelines in marginalized populations to educational activities in collaboration with patient’s associations designed to increase awareness against hepatitis. As the chair of  EASL’s Public health Concerted action Group Dr Aghemo has focused on increasing’s EASL position as the leading Scientific society in the fight against HCV.

Q&A with Dr Alessio Aghemo

What are you doing to eliminate viral hepatitis?

As a clinician involved in treating patients and shaping national and international guidelines I have lobbied for universal access to treatment both in official documents as well as in my educational activities.  I am collaborating with several scientific societies to design cross sectional programs aimed at increasing awarenss.

In your opinion, what is needed to accelerate the elimination viral hepatitis?

Better awareness in the general population. HCV is still a relatively obscure disease, and the lack of awareness is hurting screening strategies, thus holding back the possible benefits that could be achieved by universal treatment of the disease.

What does the elimination of viral hepatitis mean to you?

It is the goal of a lifetime. As someone who has seen many patients dying from viral hepatitis, curing all of them  and preventing new cases would be the ultimate achievement.

How can medical professionals and patients work together to eliminate viral hepatitis?

I think we have been working together very nicely in the last years as we share the same aim. Only through a concerted action involving patients, stakeholders and academia we can target HCV elimination. As Pink Floyd would say together we stand, divided we fall!!

Dr Philip Bruggmann

Arud Centres for Addiction Medicine
Zürich, Switzerland
What does the elimination of viral hepatitis mean to you?
It is a dream that suddenly has the potential to become true.

Dr. Bruggmann is internal medicine specialist and has worked as head of internal medicine at Arud in Zurich, Switzerland since 2003. An association founded in 1991, Arud runs four outpatient clinics for addiction medicine that provide an interdisciplinary care setting with substitution treatment, psychiatric and psychosocial therapy, and a full range of hepatitis and HIV care.

Dr. Bruggmann is serving as head of the executive board of Swiss Experts in Viral Hepatitis. In this function he leads the Swiss Hepatitis Strategy project, which was initiated by civil society. The vision of the Swiss Hepatitis Strategy is the elimination of hepatitis B and C by 2030.

Philip Bruggmann is a founding member and former president of International Network on Hepatitis Care in Substance Users. INHSU is an international organization dedicated to scientific knowledge exchange, knowledge translation, and advocacy focused on hepatitis C prevention and care with people who use drugs.

Q&A with Dr Philip Bruggmann

What are you doing to eliminate viral hepatitis?

I’m chairing the Swiss Hepatitis Strategy which is key to achieving our goal of eliminating viral hepatitis by 2030.

In your opinion, what is needed to accelerate the elimination of viral hepatitis?

From the Swiss perspective the current biggest obstacles are lack of governmental support and the hepatitis C medication prices.

How can medical professionals and patients work together to eliminate viral hepatitis?

The Swiss Hepatitis Strategy is run by a network of all stakeholders in the field of viral hepatitis which include patients, healthcare professionals, public health specialists, insurance companies, pharmaceutical companies and health authorities. By collaborating together we can ensure that all relevant topics from awareness to prevention, treatment and economics are included.

Dr Vladimir Chulanov

Central Research Institute of Epidemiology
Moscow, Russia
What does the elimination of viral hepatitis mean to you?
A world where viral hepatitis transmission is stopped and all have access to safe and effective care and treatment. It’s the vision of the WHO global hepatitis program, it’s my vision, and it is the picture in my mind that defines my work every day.

Dr. Vladimir Chulanov graduated from the Scientific Faculty of the I.M. Sechenov Moscow Medical Academy in 1995. From 2001 to 2002 Dr. Vladimir Chulanov worked in Hepatitis Division of the National Center for infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (Atlanta, USA). At that time, Dr. Vladimir Chulanov carried out a project on molecular epidemiology of hepatitis B virus in Alaskan Natives. As a part of his international training, Dr. Vladimir Chulanov took a one-year course in clinical training in Hepatology in Italy (University of Padua), laboratory training in Germany (University of Giessen), laboratory-related teaching in Ukraine and research collaboration in China.

In 2003 he attained his Ph.D. and in 2013 D.Sc. degree. Dr. Chulanov has worked at the Central Research Institute of Epidemiology since 2001, becoming a Head of the Clinical Diagnostics and Research Center in 2007. In 2008, Dr. Chulanov became a Head of the Viral Hepatitis Reference Center. In 2014 Dr. Vladimir Chulanov became a professor of the I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University, infectious diseases department. He organized a School for patients with chronic viral hepatitis at the Central Research Institute of Epidemiology. Dr. Vladimir Chulanov is an expert of the Viral Hepatitis Board (Ministry of Health, Russia). He governs development of regulatory documents and informative materials in the areas of epidemiology, diagnostics, treatment and prevention of viral hepatitis, organizes training of specialists in different fields of viral hepatitis. Under his guidance and active participation, a large set of diagnostic methods for identification and characterization of hepatitis viruses, identification of antiviral drug resistance mutations are developed and implemented into clinical practice. Dr. Vladimir Chulanov is a head of the laboratory of viral hepatitis in the Central Research Institute of Epidemiology and leads projects aimed at development of new molecular tools to eliminate hepatitis B virus. Dr. Vladimir Chulanov authors of more than 200 scientific papers, is a member International Society for Infectious Diseases, International Epidemiological Association, Russian, European and American associations for the study of the liver diseases.

 

Q&A with Dr Vladimir Chulanov

What are you doing to eliminate viral hepatitis?

Elimination of viral hepatitis is a complex problem, which requires a complex approach to be solved. Understanding the incidence of viral hepatitis, their prevalence, rates of liver cirrhosis and chronicity of viral hepatitis, this is what needs to be done first. Today, we are actively developing the Nation-wide Register of patients with chronic viral hepatitis. It is a system that allows us to monitor every single patient from the point when a person is diagnosed with viral hepatitis, through the whole period of treatment. Thereby, we can assess the effectiveness of programs of care all around the country and improve them at the right time and in the right place. The Register has been operating for the last 5 years. To date, it covers ¾ of Russian Federation, and the remaining regions are up to join the Register in the next year.

Next, we run the schools for patients and work closely with patient-advocacy groups to increase awareness of viral hepatitis, to disseminate information about prevention of viral hepatitis, their consequences, as well as to provide information about the screening opportunities and the best treatment options. If you know more, you will do everything to avoid viral hepatitis. If you happened to be infected, we will do everything for you to understand: you can fight against viral hepatitis, and they can be conquered. Increasing the awareness, that’s the second goal.

Along with that, I actively cooperate with decision-makers, health officials and Big Pharma to increase an access of patients to modern treatment options, and participate in the development of national diagnostic guidelines for viral hepatitis.

What does the elimination of viral hepatitis mean to you?

A world where viral hepatitis transmission is stopped and all have access to safe and effective care and treatment. It’s the vision of the WHO global hepatitis program, it’s my vision, and it is the picture in my mind that defines my work every day.

How can medical professionals and patients work together to eliminate viral hepatitis?

The goals of both groups are sparking clear: to cure viral hepatitis. These groups can work together to increase awareness, e.g. through participation in World Hepatitis Day. They can and must cooperate, convey the idea that treatment is obligatory, it is a “must do” thing, that should be realized by the government and all sorts of investors from different perspectives. Health care professionals show the problem as it is: its scale and significance, propose effective approaches to overcome it. At the same time, patients should express their needs, their voices must be heard, and their calls must be answered. When medical professionals and patients work together, their work is greater than simple the sum of its parts.

Dr John Lambert

Mater University Hospital and the UCD School of Medicine
Dublin, Ireland
What does the elimination of viral hepatitis mean to you?
Making hepatitis C a 'rare disease' for all patients despite being rich or poor. Everybody should be given this opportunity.

Dr John lambert is a consultant and infectious diseases professor in Dublin at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital and the UCD School of Medicine. He has spent the last 12 years working in Dublin developing projects on Hepatitis C, and most recently in finding ways for ‘vulnerable’ populations in Dublin to access the new Direct ACting Antiviral HCV drugs through an EU funded project called HepCare Europe.

Dr Lambert has published over 100 peer reviewed articles, and 10 book chapters, and is Director of the National Isolation Unit of Ireland, the highly infectious diseases service.  He additionally has expertise in the mother to child transmission of blood borne viruses and runs a clinic focusing in infections in pregnancy at the Rotunda Maternity hospital in Dublin.

Q&A with Dr John Lambert

What are you doing to eliminate viral hepatitis?

“I work with community medical caregivers and civil society in Dublin to find pathways to care for hepatitis C infected patients. I also organise pilot studies within this population to demonstrate the issues that are most common”

In your opinion, what is needed to accelerate the elimination of viral hepatitis?

“We need more community resources, as most funding in Ireland has been given to hospital based services and secondary and tertiary care facilities. This is not where the burden of hepatitis C disease exists.”

How can medical professionals and patients work together to eliminate viral hepatitis?

“In Ireland there are many healthcare organisations who are doing excellent work but do not talk or learn from each other. For example, the national hepatitis C governmental programme in Ireland has developed a ‘community’ plan but has largely excluded the community voice. We can work better together if everyone is at the same table, rather than having separate meetings behind closed doors.

 

 

Prof Mojca Maticic

Clinic for Infectious Diseases and Febrile Illnesses University Medical Centre Ljubljana
Ljubljana, Slovenia
What does the elimination of viral hepatitis mean to you?
Hepatitis C is the most exciting story of my professional life and its elimination would make it the most fulfilling

Mojca Maticic is Head of the Viral Hepatitis Department at the University Medical Centre in Ljubljana, Slovenia. She is also a Professor of Infectious Diseases and Epidemiology in the Medical Faculty at the University of Ljubljana. After gaining her medical degree, Professor 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. Subsequently, she undertook international postdoctoral training at the Middlesex Hospital and Royal Free Hospital in London, UK.

Professor Maticic’s research interests focus on viral infections, primarily viral hepatitis, HIV and herpesviruses.

A member of numerous professional societies including EASL (European Association for the Study of te Liver), INHSU (International Network for management of Hepatitis in Substance Users) and ESCMID (European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases) where she actively participates in the Study Group for Viral Hepatitis (ESGVH), she is an advisor for the Viral Hepatitis Prevention Board (VHPB), and an advisor for the World Health Organization HIV/Viral Hepatitis/STI Committee. Professor 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 (in 1997). She leads the Slovene National Viral Hepatitis Expert Group and co-authored the national clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of HCV and HBV.

She was one of the founders of the National Healthcare Network for the management of HCV in PWID in Slovenia (in 2007). A Senior Clinical Editor for Hepatology, Medicine and Policy (HMAP), she has authored or co-authored more than 400 articles in national and international peer-reviewed journals.

Q&A with Prof Mojca Maticic

What are you doing to eliminate viral hepatitis?

I have dedicated my career to viral hepatitis; from chairing the Slovene National Viral Hepatitis Expert Group, co-authoring the national clinical practice guidelines for the treatment of HCV and HBV to running out-patient clinics every Tuesday. We are on the cusp of eliminating hepatitis C but we cannot forget hepatitis B. Through my role as a clinician, I will continue to advocate for both clinical and public health advances to be made in this field.

In your opinion, what is needed to accelerate the elimination of viral hepatitis?

Today, we are witnessing a historical moment, a real breakthrough in medical history, since hepatitis C represents the first-ever curable chronic viral infection. Projection studies have shown that extremely effective, safe and patient-friendly treatment may lead to excellent control and likely even the elimination of hepatitis C – despite no vaccine being available. However further work needs to be done given the high rates of undiagnosed HCV patients, neglected and marginalized high-risk groups, a lack of national strategies and action plans for HCV management, risk of early hepatocellular carcinoma recurrence in those cured of HCV, extremely high prices and uneven access to DAAs – these are the main areas that need immediate action if we are to eliminate viral hepatitis by 2030.

How can medical professionals and patients work together to eliminate viral hepatitis?

Patients should be at the centre of their own health outcomes. As such, it’s crucially important that doctors work and collaborate with patient groups and other healthcare professionals. Experiences from my country, a middle-income nation, have shown that a multidisciplinary team of highly involved and motivated professionals that lead the long-term organized management of viral hepatitis at the national level may yield satisfactory results.

The national multidisciplinary network for the management of HCV in PWID enabled HCV treatment with 95.4% adherence and allover 80% sustained virological response (SVR) even with peginterferon/ribavirin. Projecting the future burden of HCV infection in Slovenia has shown that by scaling up the annual number of newly diagnosed and the number of annually treated patients, Slovenia could reach a 90% reduction in HCV prevalence by 2030.

Prof Heiner Wedemeyer

Hannover Medical School
Hannover, Germany
What does the elimination of viral hepatitis mean to you?
Preventing morbidity and mortality for as many patients as possible.

Heiner Wedemeyer, MD, is a Professor at the Department of Gastroenterology, Hepatology and Endocrinology, Hannover Medical School, Germany. He leads a research group on cellular immunology and clinical virology of viral hepatitis.

Prof. Wedemeyer received his medical degree from the University of Göttingen in 1996. He trained in Internal Medicine at Hannover Medical School. From 1998 to 2000, he was a research fellow in immunology at the Liver Diseases Branch, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, USA. In 2001, he returned to Hannover and completed his specialist training in Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

Prof. Wedemeyer is involved in the scientific coordination of the German Network of Competence on Viral Hepatitis (Hep-Net), the German Liver Foundation and the German Hepatitis C Registry. In 2008, he was elected as a Scientific Committee member of the European Association for the Study of the Liver (EASL), and was Secretary General of EASL from 2009 to 2011.

Prof. Wedemeyer has worked on basic and clinical aspects of hepatitis virus infections throughout his career and he has been principal investigator on several clinical trials, focusing on antiviral therapy and immunotherapy in viral hepatitis. He has authored over 280 original articles, 125 reviews and editorials and 60 book chapters, and is the editor of four books. His current Hirsch-Index is 74 (google scholar). He has received numerous awards, including the Innovation Award of the German Medical Faculties (2011) and the Rudolph Schoen Award (2011).

Q&A with Prof Heiner Wedemeyer

What are you doing to eliminate viral hepatitis?

I am actively working to generate data on the safety and efficacy of hepatitis C therapies in real-world settings by coordinating the German Hepatitis C Registry. In addition, we have established the Hepatitis Delta International Network to generate data and improve therapy for this severe form of viral hepatitis.

In your opinion, what is needed to accelerate the elimination of viral hepatitis?

There are a number of key activities needed to progress towards the elimination of viral hepatitis; namely we need to ensure high risk populations have access to key therapies, universal vaccination against hepatitis b and we need to push for the development of a vaccine against hepatitis C and hepatitis E.

How can medical professionals and patients work together to eliminate viral hepatitis?

People living with viral hepatitis are critical to the hepatitis response. We need to collaborate effectively with patient groups to develop guidelines

Other medical visionaries in European Region

  • Pelted Angela, Moldova, Republic of
  • Ia Bagashvili, Georgia
  • Yasemin Balaban, Turkey
  • Christian Banciu, Romania
  • Jolanta Bialkowska Warzecha, Poland
  • Bösiger Christophe, Switzerland
  • Martin Colla, France
  • Graham Cooke, United Kingdom
  • Chantal de Galocsy, Belgium
  • Chiapas's Dell'Isola, Italy
  • Hailemichael Desalegn, Ethiopia
  • Shorena Dvali, Georgia
  • Adaku Efuribe, United Kingdom
  • Ahmed Elsharkawy, United Kingdom
  • Milotka Fabri, Serbia
  • Tara Farrell, United Kingdom
  • Lucio Fellone, Italy
  • Alaina Ferreira, Portugal
  • Daniel Forton, United Kingdom
  • Edite Fridrihsone, Latvia
  • Indrajit Ghosh, United Kingdom
  • Mercy Gladstone, Russia
  • Nana Gongadze, Georgia
  • Tore Gutteberg, Norway
  • Irena Hrstic, Croatia
  • Zainab Jalloh, United Kingdom
  • Paul Kooner, United Kingdom
  • Nini Kotrikadze, Georgia
  • Iskren Kotzev, Bulgaria
  • Sniedze laivacuma, Latvia
  • Marco Lenzi, Italy
  • Dean Linzey, United Kingdom
  • Tofan-Scutaru Liudmila, Moldova, Republic of
  • Mariusz Lucejko, Poland
  • Boris Luksic, Croatia
  • Fadi Meroeuh, France
  • Milan Mishkovikj, Macedonia
  • Lorenzo Mondello, Italy
  • Helene Montialoux, France
  • Leelo Moosar, Estonia
  • Dr Sulleman Moreea, United Kingdom
  • Anna Mrzljak, Croatia
  • Taran Natalia, Moldova, Republic of
  • Elaine Nelson, United Kingdom
  • Heather Ord, United Kingdom
  • Denis Ouzan, France
  • Solomon Owusu Sekyere, Germany
  • Stephen Palmer, United Kingdom
  • Bex Parker, United Kingdom
  • Tom Paterson, United Kingdom
  • Lisa Samuels, United Kingdom
  • Jasmine Simonovic Babic, Serbia
  • Shailendra Singh, Ukraine
  • Arun Siva, United Kingdom
  • Evgeniy Skachkov, Russia
  • Konrad Spittaels, Belgium
  • Brian Stuebs, United Kingdom
  • Stijl van Hees, Belgium
  • Jessica Wain, United Kingdom
  • Christof Weitzel, Germany

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