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GENERAL MEETING

Speakers

2022 Speakers

Dr. Euan Ashley

Born in Scotland, Dr. Ashley graduated with 1st class Honors in Physiology and Medicine from the University of Glasgow. He completed medical residency and a PhD at the University of Oxford before moving to Stanford University where he trained in cardiology and advanced heart failure, joining the faculty in 2006. His group is focused on the science of precision medicine. In 2010, he led the team that carried out the first clinical interpretation of a human genome. The article became one of the most cited in clinical medicine that year and was later featured in the Genome Exhibition at the Smithsonian in DC. Over the following 3 years, the team extended the approach to the first whole genome molecular autopsy, to a family of four, and to a case series of patients in primary care. They now routinely apply genome sequencing to the diagnosis of patients at Stanford hospital where Dr Ashley directs the Clinical Genome Program and the Center for Inherited Cardiovascular Disease. Dr Ashley has a passion for rare genetic disease and was the first co-chair of the steering committee of the Undiagnosed Diseases Network. He was a recipient of the National Innovation Award from the American Heart Association and the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award. He is part of the winning team of the $75m One Brave Idea competition and co-founder of three companies: Personalis Inc ($PSNL), Deepcell Inc, and SVExa Inc. He was recognized by the Obama White House for his contributions to Personalized Medicine and in 2018 was awarded the American Heart Association Medal of Honor for Genomic and Precision Medicine. He was appointed Stanford Associate Dean in 2019. In 2021, his first book The Genome Odyssey – Medical Mysteries and the Incredible Quest to Solve Them was released. Father to three young Americans, in his ‘spare’ time, he tries to understand American football, plays jazz saxophone, and conducts research on the health benefits of single malt Scotch whisky.

Dr. Fei Chen

Dr. Fei Chen is currently a Core Faculty member at the Broad Institute, and assistant professor at Harvard Stem Cell and Regenerative Biology.

During the course of his doctoral research, Chen co-invented expansion microscopy, a breakthrough technique that allows for super-resolution imaging of biological samples with conventional light microscopes. As an independent Fellow at the Broad, his lab continued to pioneer novel tools at the intersection of genomics and microscopy to uniquely illuminate biological pathways and function. These include, Slide-seq, a novel technology for transcriptome-wide gene expression profiling with near-single-cell spatial resolution.

At Harvard and as a Core Member of the Broad Institute, Dr. Chen’s laboratory sets out to build a set of tools which will bridge single-cell genomics with space and timeto enable discoveries of where cell types are localized within intact tissues, when relevant transcriptional modules are active. To do this, the lab is developing novel technologies at the intersection of microscopy, genomics, and synthetic biology.  We are applying these tools to learn organizational principles governing neurodevelopment, and cellular mechanisms of disorganization during neuronal injury and disease.

He obtained his Ph.D. in biological engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology with Ed Boyden. Dr. Chen was a Schmidt Fellow at the Broad Institute. His awards include the National Institutes of Health Director’s Early Independence Award and the Allen Distinguished Investigator Award.

Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam

Dr. Alison Van Eenennaam is a Cooperative Extension Specialist in the field of Animal Genomics and Biotechnology in the Department of Animal Science at University of California, Davis.  She received a Bachelor of Agricultural Science from the University of Melbourne in Australia, and both an MS in Animal Science, and a PhD in Genetics from UC Davis. Her publicly-funded research and outreach program focuses on the use of animal genomics and biotechnology in livestock production systems. Her current research projects include the development of genome editing approaches for cattle. She serves as the bovine genome coordinator for the USDA National Animal Genome Research Program, and is an elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She has given over 700 invited presentations to audiences globally, and uses a variety of media to inform general public audiences about science and technology. She frequently provides a credentialed voice on controversial scientific topics, and has appeared on national media including The Dr Oz Show, NPR, Science Friday, and the Intelligence Squared debate series. She appeared in the 2017 documentary “Food Evolution” narrated by science-communicator Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson. A passionate advocate of science, Dr. Van Eenennaam was the recipient of the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) 2010 National Award for Excellence in Extension, American Society of Animal Science (ASAS) 2014 National Extension Award, the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology (CAST) 2014 Borlaug Communication Award, University of California – Davis 2019 James H. Meyer Distinguished Career Achievement Award, and ASAS 2019 Rockefeller Prentice Award in Animal Breeding and Genetics. Twitter: @BioBeef.

Dr. Neil Hanchard

Dr. Hanchard received his medical degree with Honours from the University of the West Indies in Kingston, Jamaica, and his D.Phil. in Clinical Medicine and Human Genetics from the University of Oxford, UK, where he was a Rhodes Scholar in the laboratory of Prof. Dominic Kwiatkowski. Thereafter he completed his clinical training in the United States as a pediatrician at the Mayo Clinic and as a clinical geneticist at Baylor College of Medicine. His lab focuses on using quantitative and integrative genomics to explore complex pediatric disease traits, particularly in human populations of diverse ancestries, emphasizing the interplay of population genetics and disease susceptibility. Dr. Hanchard’s current portfolio includes studies of congenital cardiovascular diseases, sickle cell disease, severe childhood malnutrition, and pediatric HIV, and he has published broadly on the genetic basis of rare birth defects and Mendelian syndromes. These studies are supported through extensive collaborations across Africa, the Caribbean, and the US. He is the Chair of the Genome Analysis working group of the Human Health and Heredity in Africa (H3Africa) consortium, and a former American Society of Human Genetics Early-career Director. In January 2021, Dr. Hanchard moved his lab to the NIH as an intramural investigator in the Center for Precision Health Research in NHGRI, where he leads the Childhood Complex Disease Genomics Section.

Simone Immler

Simone Immler is Professor of Genetics and Reproduction at the University of East Anglia, UK. She was awarded both an European Research Council Starting Grant and an European Research Council Consolidator Grant and received a prestigious Wallenberg Academy Fellowship. Dr. Immler’s research focuses on the genetics and genomics of male reproduction and fertility and her lab works on zebrafish and humans. The main focus of her research lies on the mechanisms and processes occurring in germ cells particularly at the stages between meiosis and fertilisation and syngamy. She uses a wide range of tools including mathematical modelling, experimental manipulations and genomics to study the importance of selection on male gametes. Recent findings from her lab overturned the prevailing idea that the haploid sperm genome is transcriptionally silent by providing clear evidence of a link between sperm genotype and sperm phenotype as well as between sperm phenotype and offspring fitness. Dr. Immler earned her MSc from the University of Basel, Switzerland and her PhD from the University of Sheffield, UK. She spent time as a Research Fellow and Associate Professor at Uppsala University, Sweden before returning to the UK in 2017.

Elinor Karlsson

Elinor Karlsson, PhD, is associate professor in Bioinformatics and Integrative Biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and director of Vertebrate Genomics at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Her research combines new technology, community science and the power of evolution to investigate diseases and discover the origins of exceptional mammalian traits.  Dr. Karlsson’s research includes Zoonomia (zoonomiaproject.org), an international effort to compare the genomes of over 240 mammals, from the African Yellow-spotted Rock Hyrax to the Woodland Dormouse, to identify critically important segments of DNA. In collaboration with Zoo New England, she is developing tools that uses genomics to tackle heritable diseases, like heart disease, common in some zoo populations. Dr. Karlsson has a special interest in dog genetics, and her international Darwin’s Ark project (DarwinsArk.org) invites all dog owners to enroll their dogs in an open data research project exploring the genetic basis of dog behavior, as well as diseases such as compulsive disorders, food allergies and cancer.

Elinor received her B.A. in biochemistry/cell biology and her B.F.A. (Bachelor of Fine Arts) from Rice University, and earned her Ph.D. in bioinformatics from Boston University. She was a postdoctoral fellow with Pardis Sabeti at Harvard University before starting her research group at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in 2014.

Zach Lippman

Zach Lippman is a Professor of Plant Biology at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) and a Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Investigator. His research group integrates genetics, development, genomics, and genome editing to study flowering and flower production in nature and agriculture. Taking advantage of natural and induced variation in these processes in tomato and related Solanaceae plants, Lippman’s group has shown how stem cell proliferation and maturation underlie diversity in vegetative and reproductive shoot systems. Identifying the genes and mechanisms underlying this diversity have led to broader exploration on the roles of structural variation, gene regulation, and epistasis in development, domestication, and breeding. Based on these discoveries, Lippman is developing and applying innovative concepts and tools for crop improvement. His contributions to plant genetics and genome editing were recognized with receiving a MacArthur Fellowship and the US National Academy of Sciences Award in Food and Agriculture.

Dr. Trevor D Lawley

Dr. Trevor Lawley is a Faculty member at the Wellcome Sanger Institute (www.lawleylab.com) and the Chief Scientific Officer of Microbiotica (www.microbiotica.com). Trevor’s research is focused on developing concepts, methods and tools to enable basic discoveries and translation of medicines and diagnostics from the human microbiome. His science uses large-scale genomics and data driven approaches in patient cohorts, underpinned by metagenomic analysis, microbial culturing and machine learning, to investigate the biology of human microbes that are associated with health and a range of diseases, syndromes and developmental disorders. Trevor has trained scientists who have established independent academic research labs and have pioneered the human microbiome biotechnology sector. Research by Trevor and his students has been published in Nature, Nature Immunology, Nature Genetics, Cell and Nature Biotechnology, and has been featured on BBC, CNN news and highlighted in The Economist. In December 2016, Trevor spun out the biotech company Microbiotica to develop live bacterial therapeutics, biomarkers and microbiome-based technologies focused on treating patients with autoimmune diseases and cancers. Microbiotica is developing live bacterial therapeutic products, defined consortia of bacteria, as novel medicines for ulcerative colitis patients and melanoma immunotherapy patients.

Dr. Mary J O’Connell

Dr Mary J O’Connell, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Comparative and Molecular Evolution at the University of Nottingham, UK. Her laboratory is focussed on uncovering the molecular mechanisms that underpin changes in phenotype and function. Her work is computational in nature and involves close collaboration with field, molecular and cellular biologists. She develops and applies phylogenomic and comparative genomic approaches to uncover patterns and processes of evolution that underpin phenotypic diversity and adaptation. This involves sampling, sequencing, assembling and annotating genomes of diverse species, followed by the large scale comparative genomics involved in understanding the evolution and adaptation of species to their environments, from to seals and caecilia.

Pardis Sabeti

Pardis Sabeti is a Professor at Harvard University, the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT, and a Howard Hughes Investigator. Her computational genomic lab has contributed to widely varying fields — including human and microbial genomics, information theory, and rural infectious disease surveillance and education efforts in West Africa. She completed a B.S. at MIT, M. Sc. and D.Phil at Oxford University, and M.D. summa cum laude from Harvard Medical School. Sabeti is a National Academy of Medicine member, World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, National Geographic Emerging Explorer, the National Academy of Sciences Richard Lounsbery Award, Smithsonian American Ingenuity Award winner for Natural Science, TIME magazine “Person of the Year” as one of the Ebola fighters, and TIME’s 100 Most Influential. She is the host of ‘Against All Odds’ included as part of AP stats classes nationwide, and is the lead singer of the rock band Thousand Days.

Dr. Ryan Tewhey

Dr. Ryan Tewhey is a human geneticist with expertise in developing large-scale screening methods to understand how genetic variation impacts human traits and disease. His primary focus is the investigation of non-coding regions of the genome that control gene expression. He has pioneered the use of massively parallel reporter assays (MPRA) and CRISPR based screens of non-coding regions to identify causal alleles from genome wide association studies and understanding how these polymorphisms modulate disease risk. His time is evenly divided between experimental and computational approaches.

Ryan is currently an assistant professor at The Jackson Laboratory in Bar Harbor and holds appointments at Tufts University School of Medicine and The University of Maine Graduate School of Biomedical Science and Engineering. Ryan completed his undergraduate degree from the University of Maine, Orono and received his PhD from the University of California, San Diego while carrying out work at The Scripps Research Translational Institute. He completed his postdoctoral work at Harvard University and The Broad Institute. His awards include Forbes Magazine’s 30 under 30, NSF/A-STAR EAPSI fellow, the Charles J. Epstein Award for Research Excellence by the American Society of Human Genetics, and an NHGRI Pathway to Independence Award.

Olga Troyanskaya

Olga Troyanskaya is a Professor at the Lewis-Sigler Institute for Integrative Genomics and the Department of Computer Science at Princeton University and the Deputy Director for Genomics at the Flatiron Institute, Simons Foundation. Her lab employs machine learning and statistical modeling techniques to decode genomes and understand cellular specificity, genotype-phenotype relationships, and evolution. Through developing integrative analyses and modeling of complex molecular-level changes captured via diverse functional genomics techniques, including experimental and clinical data, the approaches enable systems-level molecular views of human health and complex diseases. Dr. Troyanskaya received her Ph.D. from Stanford University and is a recipient of the Sloan Research Fellowship, the NSF CAREER award, the Howard Wentz faculty award, and the Blavatnik Finalist Award. She has also been honored with the Ira Herskowitz Award from The Genetics Society of America and is the 2011 recipient of the Overton Prize in computational biology.

Dr. Alicia Zhou

Dr. Alicia Zhou is the Chief Science Officer at Color. She is responsible for leading research collaborations with academic institutions, biopharmaceutical companies, and large population initiatives. She and her team initiates and executes academic collaborations towards driving improved population health outcomes. In addition, Dr. Zhou is an active part of Color’s market development team for population genomics and population research. Dr. Zhou received her Ph.D. at Harvard and performed her postdoctoral work at UCSF with an emphasis on cancer biology.