Omics Evolution Summit- All things Omics 29th- 31st May 2012

ACGT Support Scientist- Ms Jessika Samuels attended the “Omics Evolution Summit” earlier this year. The summit took place in Boston, Massachusetts. The Summit brought together top scientists and leading pharmaceutical and diagnostic companies, to discuss research and developments in drug discovery/pharmacogenomics, new technologies and the evolving landscape of the industry in genomics, proteomics, RNAi, next-generation sequencing, epigenetics and protein kinases. The conference was attended by over 200 researchers from across the globe and featured both oral and poster presentations. With a bumper packed agenda the oral presentations ran in six parallel sessions.

Ms Samuels had this to say when asked for a brief synopsis of the conference. “Sessions that focused on next generation sequencing were most informative. It was wonderful to see how the technology is being applied to current health research and the scale at which it promises to accelerate the pace of research and drug discovery. Two talks caught my attention. The first was the 1000 Genomes talk by Dr Rade Dramanac. The talk featured the project aims; to deep sequence the genome of a large number of individuals in order to gain a greater understanding of human genetic variation. The second talk, by Prof John Quackenbush covered the advances his team has made in the collection, management and analysis of sequencing data. This integrative approach has enabled his team to uncover cellular networks and pathways that lead to disease. Building on this they have developed predictive models to direct therapeutic development. The first talk emphasized the utility of next generation sequencing technology while the second highlighted current advances in the realm of bioinformatics that complement the interpretation of next generation sequence data.

Other tracks that were equally interesting were those concerning RNAi and Protein Kinases. These tracks focused more on applied research than those previously mentioned. The scale and infrastructure available to researcher in first world countries is startling in comparison to South Africa and other developing countries around the world.

By far the talk that I most enjoyed was that of Nobel Laureate, Dr Craig Mello. His talk entitled RNAi and Immortality: Recognition of Self/non-Self Nucleic Acids was both informative and quite inspirational. Not only is Dr Mello an outstanding researcher, he also possesses a great gift in communicating his research in an inspirational manner. Overall, I found the conference to be most informative. However, I wish I was able to attend all the presentations as they were all equally impressive.”