Eske Willerslev

Eske Willerslev (EW) is director of Centre of Excellence in GeoGenetics and the National CryoBank and Sequencing Facility, situated at the National History Museum and the Biological Institute, University of Copenhagen. The centre currently facilitates 60 people. During his PhD, EW established the first ancient DNA facility in Denmark, which, despite its small size, rapidly became internationally recognized for, among other things, establishing the fields of ancient sedimentary and ice core genetics, which have since become world-wide scientific disciplines. After finishing his PhD studentship EW obtained a prestigious Wellcome Trust Fellowship to join the Department of Zoology at the University of Oxford, UK – a world-leading institution in many fields of research, including ancient DNA.Recently, at the age of 33, EW was called back to University of Copenhagen to commence the position of Full Professor, first at the Niels Bohr Institute and later at the National History Museum and Biological Institute. In addition, he has been awarded the prestigious position of Visiting Professor by Oxford University.EW is an internationally recognised researcher in the fields of ancient DNA, DNA degradation, and evolutionary biology. He has 38 publications in Science and Nature, and 160 publications in other high profile peer review journals such as The Lancet;Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS); Current BiologyAmerican Journal of Human GeneticsSystematic BiologyMolecular Biology and EvolutionTRENDS in Ecology and EvolutionTRENDS in MicrobiologyPloS BiologyGeneticsGenome ResearchGeology; Nucleic Acid Research; and Proceedings of the Royal Society of London B.His research interests include: palaeoecology, palaeontology, archaeology, domestication, climatology, ancient microbial biology, DNA degradation and repair, exobiology, phylogenetics, molecular evolution, barcoding, and genomics. EW has served as a reviewer for various grant agencies and journals including the NSF (US), NatureScience; and PNAS. EW is an invited member of the International Mars Cryoscout drilling team (NASA), and scientific organizer for the 3rd and 4th Mars Polar Conferences (NASA). He has been a keynote or invited speaker at 73 international conferences and meetings, has successfully applied for and been awarded 50 large research grants and academic prizes in Denmark, UK, US, Australia, New Zealand and the EU, and has supervised more than 50 MSc students, PhD students, and post doctoral associates.EW has strong collaborations with world leading scientists in Europe, US, Canada, and Russia, and participated in 12 international polar expeditions, 5 of which he led. He has communicated his work to the public through documentary films, books, popular articles, museum exhibitions and numerous national and international TV, newspaper, and magazine interviews.

David Haussler

David Haussler’s research lies at the interface of mathematics, computer science, and molecular biology. He develops new statistical and algorithmic methods to explore the molecular function and evolution of the human genome, integrating cross-species comparative and high-throughput genomics data to study gene structure, function, and regulation. He is credited with pioneering the use of hidden Markov models (HMMs), stochastic context-free grammars, and the discriminative kernel method for analyzing DNA, RNA, and protein sequences. He was the first to apply the latter methods to the genome-wide search for gene expression biomarkers in cancer, now a major effort of his laboratory.As a collaborator on the international Human Genome Project, his team posted the first publicly available computational assembly of the human genome sequence on the Internet on July 7, 2000. Following this, his team developed the UCSC Genome Browser, a web-based tool that is used extensively in biomedical research and serves as the platform for several large-scale genomics projects, including NHGRI’s ENCODE project to use omics methods to explore the function of every base in the human genome, NIH’s Mammalian Gene Collection, NHGRI’s 1000 genomes project to explore human genetic variation, and NCI’s Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) project to explore the genomic changes in cancer.His group’s informatics work on cancer genomics, including the UCSC Cancer Genomics Browser, provides a complete analysis pipeline from raw DNA reads through the detection and interpretation of mutations and altered gene expression in tumor samples. His group collaborates with researchers at medical centers nationally, including members of the Stand Up To Cancer “Dream Teams” and the Cancer Genome Atlas, to discover molecular causes of cancer and pioneer a new personalized, genomics-based approach to cancer treatment.The UCSC Cancer Genomics Hub (CGHub), a product of the Haussler lab, is a secure repository for storing, cataloging, and accessing cancer genome sequences, alignments, and mutation information for 25 cancer types from TCGA, the Therapeutically Applicable Research to Generate Effective Treatments (TARGET) project, and other related projects. The current planned capacity of this data center is five petabytes. The CGHub will serve as a platform to aggregate other large-scale cancer genomics information, growing to provide the statistical power to attack the complexity of cancer.He co-founded the Genome 10K Project to assemble a genomic zoo—a collection of DNA sequences representing the genomes of 10,000 vertebrate species—to capture genetic diversity as a resource for the life sciences and for worldwide conservation efforts.Haussler co-founded and co-chairs the Data Working Group of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health, through which research, health care, and disease advocacy organizations that have taken the first steps to standardize and enable secure sharing of genomic and clinical data.Haussler received his PhD in computer science from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a fellow of AAAS and AAAI. He has won a number of awards, including the 2015 Dan David Prize, the 2011 Weldon Memorial Prize from University of Oxford, the 2009 ASHG Curt Stern Award in Human Genetics, the 2008 Senior Scientist Accomplishment Award from the International Society for Computational Biology, the 2005 Dickson Prize for Science from Carnegie Mellon University, and the 2003 ACM/AAAI Allen Newell Award in Artificial Intelligence.

Nicholas (Nick) Loman

Nick works as an Independent Research Fellow in the Institute for Microbiology and Infection at the University of Birmingham, sponsored by an MRC Fellowship in Biomedical Informatics. His research explores the use of cutting-edge genomics and metagenomics approaches to the diagnosis, treatment and surveillance of infectious disease. Nick has so far used high-throughput sequencing to investigate outbreaks of important pathogens such as Pseudomonas aeruginosa,Acinetobacter baumannii and Shiga-toxin producing Escherichia coli. His current work focuses on the application of novel sequencing technologies such as the Oxford Nanopore for genome diagnosis and epidemiology of important pathogens, including most recently real-time surveillance of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.  A more general aim is to develop bioinformatics tools to aid the interpretation of genome and metagenome-scale data in routine clinical practice in collaboration.

Felicity Jones

What is the molecular basis of adaptive trait variation? How do new species evolve? The threespine stickleback fish is an excellent organism in which to address such questions in vertebrates: diverse naturally occuring populations with rapidly evolving adaptive phenotypes, over 250 sequenced genomes, plus a suite of powerful genetic and transgenic tools. We exploit natural evolutionary replicates to functionally dissect the molecular mechanisms and evolutionary processes underlying adaptive traits and the evolution of new species.Whole genome analysis of parallel divergent stickleback ecotypes has resulted in one of the highest resolution maps of adaptive loci in vertebrates (Jones et al Nature, 2012). The majority of adaptive loci are intergenic (non-coding) and in regions of low recombination, suggesting that mutations in regulatory sequence and the recombination landscape are important in adaptive evolution. These results show that, adaptation to new freshwater environments often involves the use of pre-existing ‘standing’ genetic variation that is present at low frequencies in the marine population. One of the projects available will use bioinformatic analyses of whole genomes sampled from marine and freshwater populations to i) characterize molecular signatures of selection across the genome, ii) model and quantify mechanisms that promote and constrain the availability of adaptive standing genetic variation and iii) build and empirically test population genetic models of selective sweeps from standing genetic variation.

Matthew B. Sullivan

Sullivan’s research aims to quantitatively explore the roles of microbial viruses in global ocean biogeochemical cycling, thawing permafrosts and humans.  As a Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation Investigator, he has helped lay the foundation for modern, quantitative viral ecology. Specifically, he has helped develop a quantitative viral metagenomic sample-to-sequence pipeline and community-available informatics platforms to analyze such data, significantly expanded our understanding of the global virosphere through illuminating ‘viral dark matter’, and pioneered numerous experimental and informatic approaches to link and explore virus-host interactions. He is a Kavli Frontiers in Science Fellow, and a Fulbright Fellow, and is a Beckman Foundation undergraduate and post-doctoral mentor.

Charles Chiu

Charles Chiu is an Assistant Professor in Laboratory Medicine and Infectious Diseases at the University of California, San Francisco. He is also the Director of UCSF-Abbott Viral Diagnostics and Discovery Center (VDDC) at China Basin and Associate Director of the UCSF Clinical Microbiology Laboratory. Dr. Chiu is an expert in the emerging field of viral metagenomics and his research is focused on the development of microarray and deep sequencing technologies for viral pathogen discovery and clinical diagnostics.