Rare Diseases

MedEA Scientific Committee

for Rare Diseases

Nenad Blau

Biochemical Genetics
University Children’s Hospital Zürich
Zürich, Switzerland
Biography

Kirsten Kiær Ahring

Center for PKU
Copenhagen University Hospital
Copenhagen, Denmark
Biography

Maria Giżewska

Department of Pediatrics, Endocrinology, Diabetology, Metabolic Diseases and Cardiology
Pomeranian Medical University
Szczecin, Poland
Biography

Júlio César Rocha

Nova Medical School, Faculty of Medical Sciences, University of Lisbon
Reference Centre of Inherited Metabolic Diseases, University Hospital Lisbon Central
Center for Health Technology and Services Research
PORTUGAL
Biography

· Nenad Blau ·

Nenad Blau is a Senior Consultant in Biochemical Genetics at the University Children’s Hospital of Zürich, Switzerland and served in the same function at the Children’s Hospital in Heidelberg, Germany from 2011-2019. He was the Head of the Laboratory for Tetrahydrobiopterin and Neurotransmitter Diseases at the University Children’s Hospital in Zürich, Switzerland, where his research group discovered several inborn errors of metabolism, including GTPCH, PCD and SR deficiencies. He established and curates the phenylalanine hydroxylase (PAH) locus-specific database, BIOPKU database of phenylketonuria (PKU) genotypes, database of tetrahydrobiopterin (BH4) deficiencies and the PNDdb database of mutations causing pediatric neurotransmitter disorders (www.biopku.org). With colleagues from Vancouver (BC, Canada), he developed the IEMbase, an online knowledgebase and diagnostic tool for inborn errors of metabolism (www.iembase.org). His current research focuses on epidemiology, population genetics, genotype-phenotype correlation, and genotypic phenotype prediction in PKU and other inherited metabolic diseases.

Prof. Blau is an honorary member of the Italian Society for Pediatrics. In 2001, he received the Horst­ Bickel-Award, in 2005 the Gowland Hopkins Award and in 2011 the Asbjørn Følling Award for his research in the field of tetrahydrobiopterin and PKU.

Prof. Blau is author of more than 500 research publications and 12 books, including the standard textbooks ‘Physician’s Guide to the Diagnosis, Treatment and Follow-up of Inherited Metabolic Diseases’ and ‘Laboratory Guide to the Methods in Biochemical Genetics’

· Kirsten Kiær Ahring ·

Kirsten Ahring has worked with PKU since 1997 at the National PKU Clinic in Denmark. The clinic treats all PKU patients living in Denmark, Greenland, and the Faroe Islands, at total of 520, where around 50 of them are late-diagnosed, born before screening was implemented.  She is a metabolic dietitian, RD, and has completed a M.Sc. in Human Nutrition and a Ph.D. in clinical genetics (PKU). She has worked in research-labs in Canada and Saudi Arabia. She is a member of several advisory boards and the Scientific-Advisory-Board under the ESPKU. She is also an active member of the Danish PKU organization, where she serves as a scientific representative.

· Maria Giżewska ·

Maria Giżewska graduated from and works at the Pomeranian Medical University in Szczecin, Poland. She started at the Department of Biochemistry and in 1987 she joined the Department of Pediatrics, Endocrinology, Diabetology, Metabolic Diseases and Cardiology where she holds a position of Vice-Head. Professor Giżewska has a specialization in general pediatrics and pediatric metabolism and is a consultant on inborn errors of metabolism for the Region of West Pomerania, Poland. Since the mid-nineties, her research has been focused on early diagnosis and treatment of patients with different types of inborn errors of metabolism, including phenylketonuria. She was involved in the development of the first European Guidelines on the Diagnosis and Management of Phenylketonuria which were published in 2017 in The Lancet, Diabetes and Endocrinology and in the Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases. At the moment, she is coauthoring the second edition of the Guidelines. Professor Giżewska is the author of over 120 publications in both Polish and international journals (Impact Factor 169,34, Hirsch index 16, citations number 1237 – Web of Science) on inborn errors of metabolism, general pediatrics, pediatric endocrinology, neurology and genetics. She was trained in Denmark, Italy, Great Britain, Qatar, USA and Japan.  Phenylketonuria and other inborn errors of metabolism were the subjects of her lectures given in many European countries, USA and Canada, South America, China, Japan, Australia and in the Middle East. On many occasions she was the presenter at the Metabolic University at Colorado Children’s Hospital in Denver where her lectures focused on phenylalanine neurotoxicity and untreated adults with phenylketonuria as well as inborn errors of metabolism with intoxication syndrome. From 2011 to 2021 professor Giżewska with her German partners (Universities in Greifswald and Medical University Charitè in Berlin) carried out two European Union transborder projects (Program Interreg IVA and VA) dedicated to the creation of Polish-German newborn screening programs aimed to early detection of newborns with rare genetic conditions, including inborn errors of metabolism, endocrinological disorders, cystic fibrosis and recently, severe combined immunodeficiencies (SCID). At the moment, she is a promotor of the National Center of Science grant:  Does a life-long low-phenylalanine diet have an impact on renal function in patients with phenylketonuria? Professor Giżewska is a member of SSIEM, ISNS, Polish Pediatric Societies, Polish Society of Pediatric Endocrinology and Polish Society of Inborn Errors of Metabolism. She is also a vice-chair of Polish Society of Phenylketonuria and a vice-chair of ESPKU Scientific Advisory Committee.

· Júlio César Rocha ·

Júlio César Rocha is a Professor of Nutrition and Metabolism, graduated in Nutritional Sciences (0438N – specialist in Clinical Nutrition), with a post graduate qualification in Clinical Nutrition from the Faculty of Nutrition and Food Sciences – University of Porto (UP) and he has also a PhD in Metabolism, at the Faculty of Medicine, UP.

He has been working in the field of inborn metabolic diseases since 2003. He is Professor of Nutrition and Metabolism at NOVA Medical School teaching in the field of Nutrition and Metabolism to Medicine and Nutrition students. He is also member of the multidisciplinary clinical team at the Reference Centre of Inherited Metabolic Diseases at Centro Hospitalar Universitário Lisboa Central, one of the 5 Portuguese Reference Centres for the follow-up of patients with Inherited Metabolic Diseases. He is also a researcher at CINTESIS (Center for Health Technology and Services Research).

He is council member of the SSIEM (Society for the Study of Inborn Errors of Metabolism), Chair of the Dieticians Group of the SSIEM (SSIEM-DG), Chair of the Nutrition Group of the Portuguese Society of Metabolic Disorders (SPDM-GN) and President of the Portuguese Society of Clinical Nutrition and Metabolism (SPNCM).

He is also member of the working group of the European Phenylketonuria Guidelines (EPG 2.0) under the umbrella of the ESPKU (European Society for Phenylketonuria and Allied Disorders Treated as Phenylketonuria). He has been also member of the PKU European Parliament Cross Party Alliance, a joined group of Members of the European Parliament (MEP), experts and civil society.

He is author of more than 70 international, indexed, scientific publications and he has done more than 100 oral presentations/lectures/conferences in more than 13 different countries.