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2018 Speakers

Ami Bhatt


Ami Bhatt is a physician scientist with a strong interest in microbial genomics and metagenomics. Her team’s research program seeks to illuminate the interplay between the microbial environment and host/clinical factors in human diseases. She is a former American Society of Hematology Scholar and a Damon Runyon Clinical Investigator Awardee. Her laboratory focuses on (1) the use of next generation sequencing to define the microbiome and host immunologic features in patients with human diseases and (2) developing custom computational tools for the identification of novel human commensals and pathogens in these inpatient populations, and (3) using statistical and functional biological methods to understand the complex interplay between the human microbiome and host biology. She carries out translational research at Stanford University, and has active collaborations world-wide including in Nigeria and South Africa. She is committed to ensuring that advances in research touch the lives of individuals in all income settings – and thus, in her spare time, enjoys volunteering for the nonprofit she co-founded, Global Oncology. Outside of her academic interests, Ami enjoys the outdoors, baking and dancing.

Judy H. Cho


Judy H. Cho, MD, is the Director of the Charles Bronfman Institute for Personalized Medicine (CBIPM), the Ward-Coleman Chair for Translational Genetics, and the Vice-Chair for Research in Gastroenterology at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. She is an international authority on IBD genetics and disease mechanisms and is leading efforts in developing novel translational approaches to study IBD.

Dr. Cho has served as Chair of the Steering Committee and Principal Investigator of the Data Coordinating Center of the NIH-funded NIDDK IBD Genetics Consortium since 2003. In this capacity, she has led efforts in the identification of over 200 genetic regions associated to IBD. Since 2015, Dr. Cho has led the CBIPM, which includes the School’s major biobank, named BioMe. This biobank includes samples and matched medical record information on a highly diverse cohort of over 39,000 Mount Sinai Health System patient volunteers, involving over 850,000 separate biospecimens. BioMe and CBIPM reflect the School’s major commitment to Precision or personalized medicine to improve the care of patients on an individualized basis.

Christina Curtis


Christina Curtis, PhD, MSc is an Assistant Professor in the Departments of Medicine (Oncology) and Genetics at Stanford University School of Medicine where she leads the Cancer Systems Biology Group and serves as Co-Director of the Molecular Tumor Board at the Stanford Cancer Institute. Christina’s research leverages genome-scale data, coupled with computational modeling and iterative experimentation in order to define the molecular determinants and dynamics of tumor progression and to develop predictive and prognostic biomarkers. Through these studies, she has redefined the molecular map of breast cancer, resulting in the discovery of novel patient subgroups with distinct clinical outcomes. She and her team have also pioneered novel approaches infer signals of selection and patient-specific parameters from cancer genome sequencing data, leading to new paradigms in understanding clonal evolution. Christina was the recipient of the 2012 V Foundation for Cancer V Scholar Award, the 2012 STOP Cancer Research Career Development Award, a 2016 American Association for Cancer Research (AACR) Career Development Award and was named a National Academy of Science (NAS) Kavli Frontier of Science fellow in 2016. She is the principal investigator on grants from the NIH/NCI, Department of Defense, Breast Cancer Research Foundation, Susan G. Komen Foundation, V Foundation for Cancer Research and Emerson Collective Cancer Research Fund. Additionally, she serves on the Editorial Boards of Breast Cancer Research, Carcinogenesis: Integrative Biology, the Journal of Computational Biology and JCO Precision Oncology and is a member of the Scientific Advisory Committee for the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research (OICR) Adaptive Oncology Initiative and the Cancer Research UK (CRUK) Early Detection Research Committee.

Yaniv Erlich


Dr. Yaniv Erlich is the Chief Science Officer of and Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Computational Biology at Columbia University (leave of absence). Prior to these positions, he was a Fellow at the Whitehead Institute, MIT. Dr. Erlich received his bachelor’s degree from Tel-Aviv University, Israel (2006) and a PhD from the Watson School of Biological Sciences at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (2010). Dr. Erlich’s research interests are computational human genetics. Dr. Erlich is the recipient of DARPA’s Young Faculty Award (2017), the Burroughs Wellcome Career Award (2013), Harold M. Weintraub award (2010), the IEEE/ACM-CS HPC award (2008), and he was selected as one of 2010 Tomorrow’s PIs team of Genome Technology.

Jay Shendure


Jay Shendure is an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Professor of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington, and Director of the Allen Discovery Center for Cell Lineage Tracing. His 2005 PhD included one of the first successful demonstrations of massively parallel or next generation DNA sequencing. Dr. Shendure’s research group in Seattle pioneered exome sequencing and its earliest applications to gene discovery for Mendelian disorders (e.g. Miller and Kabuki syndrome) and autism; cell-free DNA diagnostics for cancer and reproductive medicine; massively parallel reporter assays and saturation genome editing; whole organism lineage tracing; and massively parallel molecular profiling of single cells. He is the recipient of the 2012 Curt Stern Award from the American Society of Human Genetics, the 2013 FEDERAprijs, a 2013 NIH Director’s Pioneer Award, and the 2014 HudsonAlpha Life Sciences Prize. He serves or has served on the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director, its Working Group on the US Precision Medicine Initiative, and the National Human Genome Research Advisory Council.

Eric D. Green


Eric D. Green, M.D., Ph.D. is the Director of the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI) at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a position he has held since late 2009. NHGRI is the largest organization in the world solely dedicated to genomics research. Previously, he served as the NHGRI Scientific Director (2002-2009), Chief of the NHGRI Genome Technology Branch (1996-2009), and Director of the NIH Intramural Sequencing Center (1997-2009).

Born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri, Dr. Green received his B.S. degree in Bacteriology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1981, and his M.D. and Ph.D. degrees from Washington University in 1987. During residency training in clinical pathology (laboratory medicine), he worked in the laboratory of Dr. Maynard Olson, where he launched his career in genomics research. In 1992, he was appointed Assistant Professor of Pathology and Genetics as well as a Co-Investigator in the Human Genome Center at Washington University. In 1994, he joined the newly established Intramural Research Program of the National Center for Human Genome Research, later renamed the National Human Genome Research Institute.

While directing an independent research program for almost two decades, Dr. Green was at the forefront of efforts to map, sequence, and understand eukaryotic genomes. His work included significant, start-to-finish involvement in the Human Genome Project. These efforts eventually blossomed into a highly productive program in comparative genomics that provided important insights about genome structure, function, and evolution. His laboratory also identified and characterized several human disease genes, including those implicated in certain forms of hereditary deafness, vascular disease, and inherited peripheral neuropathy.

As Director of NHGRI, Dr. Green is responsible for providing overall leadership of the Institute’s research portfolio and other initiatives. In 2011, Dr. Green led NHGRI to the completion of a strategic planning process that yielded a new vision for the future of genomics research, entitled Charting a course for genomic medicine from base pairs to bedside (Nature 470:204-213, 2011). Since that time, he has led the Institute in broadening its research mission; this has included designing and launching a number of major programs to accelerate the application of genomics to medical care. With the rapidly expanding scope of genomics, his leadership efforts have also involved significant coordination with multiple components of the NIH, as well as other agencies and organizations.

Beyond NHGRI-specific programs, Dr. Green has also played an instrumental leadership role in the development of a number of high-profile efforts relevant to genomics, including the Smithsonian-NHGRI exhibition Genome: Unlocking Life’s Code, the NIH Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) program, the NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy, and the U.S. Precision Medicine Initiative.

Ana Claudia Marques


After obtaining her diploma in Chemical Engineering from the Technical University of Lisbon in Portugal, Ana decided to pursue her interest in the molecular basis of human traits. In 2003, she started her PhD under the supervision of Henrik Kaessmann at the University of Lausanne Switzerland. During her graduate studies she investigated the contribution of gene duplication to the origin and evolution of human phenotypes. In 2008 Ana joined Chris Ponting’s group as a post-doctoral fellow to work on the origin and evolution of intergenic lncRNAs. Her postdoctoral training was funded by SNF, FCT and Marie Curie fellowships. In 2012, she was awarded a Research Fellowship (The Royal Society) and started developing an independent research program on the biological and molecular functions of intergenic lncRNAs. Ana has been a Swiss National Science Foundation Assistant Professor since October 2014, when she set up lab at UNIL. Research in Ana’s group aims to establish what is the biological relevance of pervasive lincRNA transcription in humans.

John Mattick


John Mattick is the Executive Director of the Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney, which houses one of the most advanced clinical genomics facilities in the world. He obtained his BSc from the University of Sydney and his PhD from Monash University in Melbourne. He undertook his postdoctoral training at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston and then the CSIRO Division of Molecular Biology in Sydney. In 1988 he was appointed the Foundation Professor of Molecular Biology at the University of Queensland, where he was also Director of the Institute for Molecular Bioscience and the Australian Genome Research Facility.

Professor Mattick is best known for showing that the majority of the human genome is not junk but rather specifies a regulatory RNA network that directs the epigenetic trajectories of development. His honours and awards include the inaugural Gutenberg Professorship of the University of Strasbourg, the Order of Australia and Australian Government Centenary Medal, Fellowship of the Australian Academy of Science, Associate Membership of the European Molecular Biology Organization, Honorary Fellowship of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia, the International Union of Biochemistry & Molecular Biology Medal, the Human Genome Organisation Chen Award for Distinguished Achievement in Human Genetic & Genomic Research, and the University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center Bertner Memorial Award for Distinguished Contributions to Cancer Research.

Ken McGrath


Ken McGrath is the National Sanger Sequencing Manager at the Australian Genome Research Facility, based in Brisbane, Australia. He obtained his PhD studying Molecular Pathology in 2005 from the University of Queensland, and has a research background in microbial community genomics, including human and environmental microbiomes and metagenomics analysis. Ken is currently involved with several research projects, including the US-based eXtreme Microbiome Project (XMP), as well as evaluating emerging technologies that can be used to profile the diversity of microbial communities.

Alexander Meissner


Alexander Meissner studied Medical Biotechnology at the Technical University Berlin before starting his PhD studies with Rudolf Jaenisch at the Whitehead Institute/MIT in 2002. He completed his PhD in 2006 and spent the next year and a half working with Rudolf Jaenisch and Eric Lander before starting his own lab as an assistant professor in the Department of Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology at Harvard University and as an associate member of the Broad Institute in 2008. He was promoted to associate professor in 2012 and full professor with tenure in 2015. In 2016 he has been appointed as Director and Head of the Department of Genome regulation at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Genetics in secondary employment and changed it to his principal employment in 2017.

Matthias Meyer


Matthias Meyer is a biochemist and Group Leader of the Advanced DNA Sequencing Techniques Group at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. He has developed many methods that improve the scope of DNA sequencing in evolutionary studies, a work that has led to the generation of the first high-quality genome sequences from archaic humans as well as the recovery of the oldest DNA sequences known to date from fossils discovered outside the permafrost.

Richard M. Myers


Richard M. Myers, Ph.D. is President, Science Director and a Faculty Investigator of the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology, a non-profit research and teaching enterprise in Huntsville, Alabama. The Myers Lab, in collaborative relationships with other researchers at HudsonAlpha and at other institutions, studies the human genome with the goal of understanding how allelic variation and gene expression changes contribute to human traits, including diseases, behaviors and other phenotypes. His group uses high-throughput genomic methods – including DNA sequencing, genotyping, chromatin immunoprecipitation, mRNA expression profiling, transcriptional promoter and DNA methylation measurements – as well as computational and statistical tools to identify, characterize and understand the functional elements encoded in our genomes and how they work together at the molecular level in normal and pathological conditions. The lab sequences whole genomes, whole exomes and targeted regions of the genome with ultrahigh-throughput DNA sequencing technologies to identify DNA sequence variants relevant to clinical and basic biological problems. Researchers in the Myers Lab integrates these functional genomics, epigenetic and genetic data to understand how genomes are involved in brain disorders, ALS, children born with developmental disorders, cancer, autoimmune diseases and other traits. Dr. Myers has been a long-time contributor to the ENCODE Project, The Pritzker Neuropsychiatric Research Consortium, and several other collaborative projects.

Marcelo A. Nobrega


Dr. Marcelo Nobrega is a professor in the Department of Human Genetics and a member of the Institute of Genomics and Systems Biology at the University of Chicago. Dr. Nobrega works in understanding the mechanisms by which genetic mutations outside genes are linked to the increased risk to various diseases. These mutations, presumably affecting regulatory switches that control the function of genes, are similar to the ones we think may underlie preterm birth. Dr. Nobrega has participated in efforts to devise novel strategies and experimental assays to identify gene regulatory elements. He was a principal investigator of an ENCODE grant to devise strategies to map the binding of certain proteins to the human genome and to develop novel experimental approaches to examine specific classes of regulatory elements. Dr. Nobrega has modeled the impact of mutations implicated in various human diseases, such as congenital heart defects, heart failure, cancer, type 2 diabetes, obesity, and asthma. Using genomics approaches, Dr. Nobrega has identified the gene IRX3 as the strongest association to polygenic obesity in humans, and characterized the mechanisms by which mutations altering the expression of a gene called TCF7L2 also represent the strongest genetic link to type 2 diabetes in humans. His goal is to use the same suite of tools and approaches developed over the past decade in his lab to tackle the challenges of understanding the basis of preterm birth.