William Lee, PhD


Vice President Research

Gilead Sciences Inc.

Prof. Peter baron Piot


Executive Director - LSHTM

Co-discoverer of EBOLA

Prof. Heidi Larson


Director - LSHTM

The Vaccine Confidence Project

Freddy Abnousi, MD


Vice President Health

Facebook Inc.

Rudi Pauwels, PhD


Founder & President

Praesens Foundation

On the occasion of the international AIDS Conference 2020 in San Francisco Bay, the Government of Flanders-Belgium organizes an executive luncheon to discuss challenges and progress in the fight against HIV. Meet with the pioneers and hear their insights on what it will take for our society to get rid of HIV. 

Join us for a seated lunch and network opportunity enjoying a view on the Santa Cruz Mountains.

Date and location

Friday October 18th, 2019

11:45 AM - 14:00 PM

The Rosewood Hotel

Private Room - Eucalyptus

Sand Hill Road, Menlo Park, CA 94028

Invitation only

This event requires a personal and non transferable invitation.

Business Casual.


Rudi Pauwels

Dr. Rudi Pauwels is a pharmaceutical scientist with a specialty in virology, micro&nanotechnology and a serial biotech entrepreneur. During his 35-year career he aimed to push the fronteer in high precision medicine. Starting from a vision on current and future needs he combined passion, drive, talented co-workers and innovative technologies to bridge the gap between science and the pharmaceutical and diagnostic solutions that reach the market and impact patient lives around the world. 

He currently leads the Praesens Foundation that contributes to better epidemic preparedness, early warning and rapid response for existing and emerging infectious diseases. He is board member of world leading nano-electronics center imec (Flanders, Belgium) and A*STAR (Singapore). He is chairman of miDiagnostics and Investment Committee member of Smile Invest, a 350 million euro growth equity fund for innovative companies.

During his Ph.D. studies he described the first anti-HIV activity of the phosphonate RT inhibitors from which Tenofovir (Gilead Sciences) is derived. In 1990 he and his colleagues described the first HIV NNRTI. 

He (co)-founded several successful biotech companies including Tibotec, Virco, Galapagos Genomics and Biocartis. The Tibotec/Johnson & Johnson anti-HIV drugs Prezista™, Intelence™ and Edurant™ play a key role in current AIDS treatments. In 2007 he created Biocartis that developed and commercialises a series of tests on the Idylla™ system, a fully integrated and automated, sample-to-result molecular diagnostic solution. He is (co-)author of more than 150 papers and is the recipient of several awards for his scientific and entrepreneurial accomplishments, including the Global Technology Pioneer award from the World Economic Forum in Davos in 2012.

The Praesens Foundation

Past and recent disease outbreaks (e.g. SARS, MERS, Ebola, Zika, Dengue) have shown that infectious diseases constitute to affect lives of people while also representing national, economic and health security threats that can quickly evolve into global health crises. Diagnostic needs for pathogens with epidemic potential need to be addressed ahead of the next epidemic. By doing so, we can create a preparedness ecosystem that will allow the shift from a cumbersome, costly emergency response to rapid, cost-effective action for both known and unknown pathogens.

The Praesens Foundation is therefore developing, providing and implementing easy to train and use solutions that contribute to better epidemic preparedness, early warning and rapid response for existing and emerging infectious diseases and medicine in general.

Freddy Abnousi

Dr. Abnousi is the Head of Healthcare – Research at Facebook and an Interventional Cardiologist specializing in coronary and structural interventions. He also serves as Innovation Advisor to the American College of Cardiology and Assistant Professor Adjunct at Yale University School of Medicine. He has previously led innovative healthcare efforts at companies such as McKinsey and Google, and has served as Founder and CMO of CorDynamix Inc., an interventional heart failure company. He completed Fellowships in Cardiovascular Medicine and Interventional Cardiology, as well as Residency in Internal Medicine at Stanford University Medical Center. He was previously a resident surgeon at the University of California, San Francisco. He completed his MD at Stanford University School of Medicine, MBA from Oxford University, and MSc in Health Policy, Planning, & Financing from the London School of Economics.

Founded in 2004, Facebook’s mission is to give people the power to build community and bring the world closer together. People use our products to stay connected with friends and family, to discover what’s going on in the world, and to share and express what matters to them

Peter Piot

Baron Peter Piot KCMG MD PhD is the Director of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, and the Handa Professor of Global Health. He was the founding Executive Director of UNAIDS and Under Secretary-General of the United Nations (1995-2008), and was an Associate Director of the Global Programme on AIDS of the World Health Organization.

A clinician and microbiologist by training, he co-discovered the Ebola virus in Zaire in 1976, and subsequently led pioneering research on HIV/AIDS, women’s health and infectious diseases in Africa. He has held academic positions at the Institute of Tropical Medicine, Antwerp; the University of Nairobi; the University of Washington, Seattle; Imperial College London, and the College de France, Paris, and was a Senior Fellow at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He is a member of the US National Academy of Medicine, the National Academy of Medicine of France, and the Royal Academy of Medicine of his native Belgium, and is a fellow of the UK Academy of Medical Sciences and the Royal College of Physicians.

He is a past president of the International AIDS Society and of the King Baudouin Foundation. In 1995 he was made a baron by King Albert II of Belgium.

Professor Piot has received numerous awards for his research and service, including the Canada Gairdner Global Health Award (2015), the Robert Koch Gold Medal (2015), the Prince Mahidol Award for Public Health (2014), and the Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize for Medical Research (2013), the F.Calderone Medal (2003), and was named a 2014 TIME Person of the Year (The Ebola Fighters). He has published over 580 scientific articles and 16 books, including his memoir, No Time to Lose. 

Heid Larson

Prof. Heidi J. Larson is an anthropologist and Director of The Vaccine Confidence Project (VCP); Professor of Anthropology, Risk and Decision Science, Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, LSHTM; Associate Professor, Department of Global Health, University of Washington; and Chatham House Centre on Global Health Security Fellow. Dr. Larson previously headed Global Immunisation Communication at UNICEF, chaired GAVI’s Advocacy Task Force, and served on the WHO SAGE Working Group on vaccine hesitancy. The VCP is a WHO Centre of Excellence on addressing Vaccine Hesitancy.

Dr. Larson’s research focuses on the analysis of social and political factors that can affect uptake of health interventions and influence policies. Her particular interest is on risk and rumour management from clinical trials to delivery – and building public trust.  She served on the FDA Medical Countermeasure (MCM) Emergency Communication Expert Working Group, and is Principle Investigator of the EU-funded (EBODAC) project on the deployment, acceptance and compliance of an Ebola vaccine trial in Sierra Leone.

The London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine (LSHTM) was established in 1899 and is renowned for its world-leading research, postgraduate studies and continuing education in public and global health. It has an international presence and collaborative ethos, and is uniquely placed to help shape health policy and translate research findings into tangible impact. This year marks the 120 years of being at the forefront of innovative scientific research and health discoveries, and providing research-led educational programmes in public and global health. LSHTM has 3,000 staff conducting research in over 100 countries, and more than 4,000 students, all working with a collective purpose to improve health worldwide. It has drawn on local, national and international networks to ensure that it is at the leading edge of innovations in data science, vaccines and tackling anti-microbial resistance. By embracing innovation and partnership, LSHTM seeks to creates new possibilities that will further its mission to improve health worldwide for the next 120 years.

William A. Lee

Dr. William “Bill” Lee is the Executive Vice President of Research at Gilead Sciences. He received his BS in Chemistry from the University of California San Diego. He did postdoctoral work at the EPFL in Switzerland and at the University of California Santa Barbara. He began his industry career at Syntext Research in Palo Alto in the Preformulation Department and then moved to California Biotechnology where he was Head of Drug Delivery. He came to Gilead Sciences as Director of Pharmaceutical Development in 1991. Dr. Lee is a co-inventor of Cellcept® , Viread® and tenofovir alafenamide, a lymphatic targeting prodrug of tenofovir which was recently approved for the treatment of HIV in the combination product, Genvoya®. 


Gilead Sciences

For more than 30 years, Gilead has built a culture of excellence. We are committed, hardworking and passionate about improving the lives of the patients who use our products. Our values – integrity, inclusion, teamwork, accountability and excellence – are evident in everything we do.

Employees at Gilead challenge one another to ever higher standards and accomplishment. Gilead has attracted some of the sharpest minds in biotech and beyond, and the people who thrive in our culture are those who seek opportunities to do their best work beside others who share the same mission.

Being here matters. Together we deliver life-saving therapies to patients in need. With the commitment and drive you bring to the workplace every day, you will be part of a team that is changing the world and helping millions of people live healthier, more fulfilling lives.

Our worldwide staff of more than 11,000 people is a close community where you can see the tangible results of your contributions, where every individual matters, and everyone has a chance to enhance their skills through ongoing development.

Marc Van Gastel

Marc Van Gastel, MBA, MSc, heads the Invest Department at Flanders Investment and Trade (FIT), an autonomous agency of the Flemish Government (Belgium). It is responsible for the attraction and development of foreign investment in the Northern region of Belgium - Flanders. It develops sustainable relationships with foreign companies interested in investing in Flanders and provide on-going assistance to companies locating here, together with its sister-agencies and strategic partners. From 2008-2011, Marc was the Director of Deloitte’s Innovation Center of Excellence and active in the consulting and corporate finance arm of Deloitte’s Belgium practice. From March 1, 2005 to end of 2007 Marc was appointed as Senior Advisor to the Flemish Minister of Economics, Foreign Trade, Science and Innovation and at the Department for Economy, Science and Innovation. He is a distinguished guest lecturer at several leading management schools and Universities.

Jan Wauters

Jan Wauters, PhD is the Science and Technology Counselor life sciences and nanotechnologies at Flanders Investment & Trade New York, where he is responsible for stimulating high-tech research collaborations and business opportunities between the Americas and the State of Flanders, Belgium. Jan has over 20 years of experience in business development for emerging technologies, including semiconductors, renewable energies and biotechnologies.

Prior to his current position, he was director of industry relations and corporate marketing at IMEC, the world’s largest independent nanotechnology R&D center. In 2007, he co-founded, together with the US delegation, the Working Party on Nanotechnology at the OECD, to study the impact of nanotechnologies on our industry and society. He served as Executive Director of the Flanders Nano Bio Alliance, which he founded in 2006. FNBA is a collaborative to stimulate nano- and biotechnologies in Flanders.Jan Wauters has authored over 100 articles in scientific journals. He published many articles in trade magazines on micro- and nanotechnologies. 

Wim Sohier

Wim Sohier, MSc EE is the Science & Technology Counselor at Flanders Investment & Trade Palo Alto, where he is responsible for stimulating strategic relations with the Americas. In addition to heading the economic diplomatic representation on Sand Hill Road, his specific focus area's include Information Technology, Semiconductors and Aerospace.
Prior to FIT, he held global management roles in the IT industry with P&L responsibility upto 15 M EUR and remote R&D teams upto 30 FTE. He served as System Engineer for the first Eurofighter flight simulator at Barco, Technical Product Manager for DSL broadband at Technicolor, Technical Marketing Manager for Philips' first Android TV.
Wim, Dutch for William, graduated as Hardware Engineer at University Ghent in 2005. After pursuing a PhD in the field of Image Processing, he left Europe to establish an R&D Innovation Center in Hsinchu, Taiwan for IMEC, a leading research institute in micro and nanotechnology. Wim is a Fellow of the Prince Albert Fund, where he met his wife Sophie. He is a father and investor in 2 promising start ups : Matthias and Charlotte Sohier. Since 2014, they live in Menlo Park, California. 

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In the 14-15th centuries, painters became masters, craftsmen who were true artists, celebrated by their local community, the best of them worldwide renowned. It is no different today. Today's masters are craftsmen and -women, geniuses, in other words, the best in their profession. They are artists, but also scientists, engineers, doctors, statesmen, etc. This Initiative celebrates them all, from Van Eyck to Piot.

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