2020 Speakers

Mary Armanios


Mary Armanios is Professor of Oncology and Genetic Medicine at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her research has been focused on understanding the role of telomeres and telomerase in disease.  Dr. Armanios earned her medical degree at the Ohio State University, where she went on to complete a combined internal medicine and pediatrics residency.  She then moved to Johns Hopkins to complete her medical oncology fellowship.  She is currently Clinical Director of the Telomere Center at Johns Hopkins.  Dr. Armanios is a member of the American Society for Clinical Investigation and the Association of American Physicians and serves as Associate Editor of the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

Catherine Ball


Catherine Ball, Ph.D. has served as Chief Scientific Officer for AncestryDNA, LLC since September 2016. She joined Ancestry in 2011 as Vice President of Genomics and Bioinformatics, helping to establish the Company’s approach to genetic genealogy leading to the launch of AncestryDNA. Cathy is a genomic scientist who has annotated and mined the genomes of various organisms and created resources to help clinicians, citizens and other scientists exploit and explore genome data. Her career has focused on helping people around the world appreciate, understand and use their own genomic data. Cathy has collaborated on the annotation of the first sequenced eukaryotic genome (brewer’s yeast) and has collaboratively built databases to explore the genomes of yeast, E. coli and the bacterium that causes tuberculosis. As a pioneer in data analysis resources for high-throughput biomedical technologies, she led the Stanford Microarray Database, the largest academic database of its kind. Cathy has used high-throughput biomedical data to shed light on diverse research topics, from the biology of infectious organisms to the mechanisms involved in cell division and cancer. She has presented seminars at leading universities and contributes to National Institutes of Health committees. She received a B.S. in Biology and a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology from the University of California, Los Angeles. Cathy was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of California, Berkeley prior to her research in the Departments of Genetics and Biochemistry at Stanford University School of Medicine.

Francis S. Collins

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. was appointed the 16th Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) by President Barack Obama and confirmed by the Senate. He was sworn in on August 17, 2009. On June 6, 2017, President Donald Trump announced his selection of Dr. Collins to continue to serve as the NIH Director. In this role, Dr. Collins oversees the work of the largest supporter of biomedical research in the world, spanning the spectrum from basic to clinical research.  Dr. Collins is a physician-geneticist noted for his landmark discoveries of disease genes and his leadership of the international Human Genome Project, which culminated in April 2003 with the completion of a finished sequence of the human DNA instruction book. He served as director of the National Human Genome Research Institute at NIH from 1993-2008. Before coming to NIH, Dr. Collins was a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator at the University of Michigan. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine and the National Academy of Sciences, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in November 2007, and received the National Medal of Science in 2009.

Jennifer Fogarty


Dr. Fogarty is the NASA Human Research Program (HRP) Chief Scientist. As HRP Chief Scientist, Jennifer works with the HRP Elements on the development and oversight of an extensive research portfolio addressing solutions to the diverse human system risks to enable human exploration of space. This role requires communication and collaboration with current flight Programs, International Partners, as well as developmental spaceflight Programs that will be implementing risk reduction strategies developed and informed by HRP research and technology development. In addition, Jennifer establishes and maintains relationships and collaborations with external institutions and other government agencies to assess fundamental and mechanistic discoveries as well as innovative prevention and treatment strategies. Before taking on this leadership role in the HRP, Jennifer was the Translational Scientist for NASA Space and Clinical Operations Division in the Human Health and Performance Directorate. Jennifer facilitated communication, project development, and Program interactions between the operations and research communities. She identified candidates for the transition to operations process to reduce risk and resource utilization with overall goal of preserving astronaut health and performance during and after missions. Previously, Jennifer was the Open Collaboration and Innovation Manager responsible for developing and maturing collaborations and applying tools such as technical gap analysis and open innovation platforms to further research, enhance clinical resources, and facilitate technology development.

Dr. Fogarty received a PhD from Texas A&M University System Health Science Center. She is currently on the editorial team for the Fundamentals of Aerospace Medicine 5th edition, regularly lectures on space physiology and human system risk management, and has continued interacting with the research and technology development community through NASA’s Human Health and Performance Center and the Human Research Program.

Leroy E. Hood


Dr. Leroy E. Hood graduated from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1964 with an MD and from Caltech with a PhD in biochemistry in 1968.   After three years

as a Senior Investigator at NIH, his academic career began at Caltech, where he and his colleagues developed the DNA gene sequencer and synthesizer, and the protein synthesizer and sequencer–four instruments that paved the way for the successful mapping and understanding of the human genome. A pillar in the biotechnology field, Dr. Hood has played a role in founding fifteen biotechnology companies including Amgen, Applied Biosystems, Integrated Diagnostics and Arivale.  He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of   Engineering, and the Institute of  Medicine.  Of the more than 6,000 scientists world-wide who belong to one or more of these academies, Dr. Hood is one of only fifteen people nominated to all three.   Dr. Hood has co-authored numerous textbooks in biochemistry, immunology, molecular biology and genetics, as well as a popular book on the human genome project, The Code of Codes and he is just finishing a text on systems biology.   He is the recipient of numerous national and international awards, including the Lasker Award for Studies of Immune Diversity (1987), the Kyoto Prize in advanced technology (2002), the Heinz Award for pioneering work in Systems Biology (2006), and the coveted NAE 2011 Fritz J. and Delores H. Russ Prize for developing automated DNA sequencing.   In addition to having received 17 honorary degrees from prestigious universities in the U.S. and abroad, Dr. Hood has published over 850 peer-reviewed articles and currently holds 36 patents.   In 2013, he received the National Medal of Science from President Obama.  Hood has been named by The Best Schools as one of the 50 Most Influential Scientists in the World Today (2014).Scientific American has named Hood as one of the top 6 in their selection of 100 biotech visionaries world-wide (2015).

Dr. Marco Marra


Dr. Marco Marra, OBC, PhD, FRSC, FCAHS, is Director of Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre at the BC Cancer; Professor and Head of the Department of Medical Genetics at UBC and the BC Node Leader for the Terry Fox Research Institute. He uses genome science to study cancers. His recognitions include member of the Order of British Columbia, the 2019 Don Rix Lifetime Achievement Award, the Canadian Cancer Research Alliance’s Outstanding Achievement in Cancer Research Award, the Dr. Chew Wei Memorial Prize in Cancer Research and Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada. Dr. Marra has received honorary degrees from Simon Fraser University and from the University of Calgary.

Dr. Marra has spent much of his career working within and leading interdisciplinary teams seeking to study fundamental problems in cancer genome biology. His current research activities revolve around the interplay between the cancer genome and the epigenome, with particular focus on the evolution of treatment resistant cancers.

Richard M. Myers


Richard M. Myers, PhD, joined the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology in 2008 as president and science director. He supplies the strategic oversight for the research enterprise at the Institute including sustaining a large, active laboratory. Myers brings 38 years of experience in genetics and genomics to his position.

Myers received his BS in biochemistry from The University of Alabama in 1977 and his PhD in biochemistry from the University of California at Berkeley in the lab of Robert Tjian in 1982. He completed his postdoctoral training at Harvard University in the lab of Tom Maniatis, and then joined the faculty of the University of California, San Francisco, Medical Center in 1985. He moved to Stanford University School of Medicine in 1993, where he served as professor and chair in the department of genetics. Under Myers’ direction, the Stanford Human Genome Center with the Joint Genome Institute contributed more than 10 percent of the data in the public Human Genome Project’s efforts to sequence the human genome.

The Myers Lab, in collaborative relationships with other researchers at HudsonAlpha and elsewhere, 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, as well as in functional genomics experiments, with ultrahigh-throughput DNA sequencing technologies to study clinical and basic biological problems. Researchers in the Myers Lab integrate these functional genomics, epigenetic and genetic data to understand how genomes are involved in brain disorders, ALS, cancer, children born with developmental disorders, autoimmune diseases and other traits.

John Novembre


The Novembre research group uses computational tools to study genetic diversity in natural populations. Our goal is to develop widely used statistical methods for intelligently extracting information from large-scale genomic data with the aim to improve understanding of: (1) basic genomic biology, (2) the biology of heritable disease traits, (3) the genetic basis of evolutionary processes, and (4) the history and evolution of various species, especially humans. From a disciplinary perspective, most of the ideas we use are from theoretical population genetics, statistical genetics, and computational statistics. Much of our work is invigorated by addressing data from emerging genotyping and sequencing technologies applied to large or particularly interesting population samples.

Sarah Teichmann


Sarah Teichmann is interested in global principles of regulation of gene expression and protein complexes, specifically in the context of immunity. Sarah did her PhD at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK and was a Beit Memorial Fellow at University College London. She started her group at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in 2001. In 2013, she moved to the Wellcome Genome Campus in Hinxton/Cambridge, jointly with the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute and the Wellcome Sanger Institute (WSI). In January 2016 she became Head of the Cellular Genetics Programme at the WSI. Sarah is an EMBO member and a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and her work has been recognized by a number of prizes, including the Lister Prize, Biochemical Society Colworth Medal, Royal Society Crick Lecture, EMBO Gold Medal and the Mary Lyon Medal.

Scott Tighe


Scott Tighe is currently senior researcher analyst at the UVM Integrative Genomics facility which handles all advanced genomic analysis for the University of Vermont and associated institutes. His expertise is all areas of genomics and microbiology including NextGen and Sanger sequencing, Microarray, PCR, single cell analysis, flow cytometry, and experimental design.  Scott Is a microbiologist with a strong background in microbial identification (fungi, bacteria, algae). He has also worked in the field of optics,  biophotonics, and holography to develop new disruptive technologies for 3D optical data storage and biomolecular detection of nucleic acids and nerve agents.  His current research involves advancing general techniques used for metagenomics and microbiome analysis through applications on extreme environments. He is Chair of the ABRF Metagenomics Research Group and Extreme Microbiome Project (XMP) and co-leader of the International Metagenomics and Microbiome Standards Alliance at NIST and a member of the Genomics Standards Consortium.

Barbara Rae-Venter


Barbara Rae-Venter, J.D., Ph.D., is a retired intellectual property attorney who specialized in the patenting of biotechnology inventions. She earned a J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin Law School and a B.A. double major in Psychology and Biochemistry (Special Projects) and a Ph.D. in Biology (Biochemistry) at the University of California at San Diego. She is licensed to practice before the US Patent and Trademark Office and the State Bar of California (inactive). Barbara is a Search Angel with helping adoptees find their birth relatives and also helps teach the online autosomal DNA (atDNA) classes that offers to help adoptees use their atDNA to find birth relatives. Barbara’s identification of the mother of Lisa Jensen, abducted in infancy and then abandoned by her abductor as a 5 year, led to solving the murder of the Allenstown Four in Allenstown, NH. Barbara subsequently determined the true identify of Lisa’s abductor, a man of many aliases, as Terry Peder Rasmussen. More recently, using the same technique as she used to identify Lisa and Rasmussen, Barbara identified a suspect for the notorious Golden State Killer as Joseph James DeAngelo. The technique Barbara used in these three cases is now being used to solve many previously
“unsolvable” cases.

For her work, Barbara was recognized by the journal Nature as one of “10 people Who Mattered In Science In 2018″. She has also been recognized as one of Time 100’s Most Influential People of 2019. Barbara continues to work with law enforcement assisting with identification of suspects in violent crimes and the identification of unidentified victims of violent crime. See here for an example of a recent case on which Barbara assisted. Barbara also helps to train law enforcement professionals in the use of atDNA. Barbara can be reached at

Richard Wilson


Richard K. Wilson, PhD, is the founding Executive Director of the Institute for Genomic Medicine at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Nationwide Foundation Endowed Chair in Genomic Medicine, and Professor of Pediatrics at the Ohio State University College of Medicine. He received his A.B. degree from Miami University in Ohio (Microbiology, 1981), his Ph.D. from the University of Oklahoma (Chemistry and Biochemistry, 1986), and was a Research Fellow in the Division of Biology at the California Institute of Technology. In 1990, Dr. Wilson joined the faculty of Washington University School of Medicine where he cofounded the Genome Sequencing Center/McDonnell Genome Institute. At Washington University, Dr. Wilson was the Alan A. and Edith L. Wolff Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Professor of Genetics, Professor of Molecular Microbiology, and a member of the Senior Leadership Committee of the Siteman Cancer Center.

Dr. Wilson is an expert in molecular genetics and large-scale genomics, and his laboratories have been among the world’s leaders in genome analysis. His teams have sequenced and analyzed billions of bases of DNA from the genomes of bacteria, yeast, plants, invertebrates, vertebrates, primates and humans. Dr. Wilson and his colleagues at Washington University sequenced the first animal genome – that of the roundworm Caenorhabditis elegans – and contributed substantially to the sequencing and analysis of the human genome. They also sequenced the genomes of the mouse, chimpanzee, orangutan, gorilla, rhesus macaque, platypus, the plants Arabidopsis thaliana and Zea mays (corn), as well as various invertebrates, insect vectors and microorganisms. His team was the first to sequence the genome of a cancer patient and discover genetic signatures relevant to the pathogenesis of the disease. Building upon these achievements, the mission of Dr. Wilson’s institute at Nationwide Children’s Hospital is to utilize cutting-edge genome sequencing and analysis technology to discover clues that will lead to more effective diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other human diseases in children and adults.

In 2008, Dr. Wilson was elected as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He also has received Distinguished Alumni awards from both of his alma maters.

Barbara Wold


Dr. Barbara Wold is the Bren professor of molecular biology and director of the Beckman Institute at Caltech. A substantial biological challenge is to understand the regulation and execution of developmental decisions that lead from multipotential, undifferentiated precursor cells to their specialized differential products. In the Wold lab at the California Institute of Technology, we are interested in several interrelated aspects of this problem, and we also work to develop new methods for studying it. The particular cell lineage problem we study begins with the specification of mesoderm in early development and continues to the final differentiation of skeletal muscle or cardiac muscle in the fully developed animal. To study this process we use the mouse as our experimental system. Molecular-level analyses use cell culture model systems and transgenic mice. These projects include studies of in vitro and in vivo protein-DNA interactions and of factors that amplify or suppress expression activity. Computational approaches involve the development of algorithms for use in large-scale gene expression analysis and the construction of a simulator framework for regulation in muscle development.