BGI’s First International Conference on Genomics in Europe was Successfully Conducted in Copenhagen
Publish Date: 2012-05-28

May 26, 2012, Copenhagen, Denmark, and Shenzhen, China –The International Conference on Genomics in Europe (ICG-Europe), organized by BGI, the world’s largest genomics organization, was successfully conducted at Biocenter of Copenhagen, Denmark. The three-day conference brought to Europe for the first time BGI’s acclaimed International Conference on Genomics (ICG) held annually in China since 2006.

In addition to BGI, ICG-Europe was co-organized by University of Copenhagen, Aarhus University, Biopeople, and DTU (Danmarks Tekniske Universitet). More than 400 prominent researchers and global industry luminaries attended the conference with the aim to accelerate Omics-related research and boost the transformation of scientific and technological achievements.

The conference started with a friendly opening remark by Professor Huanming Yang, Chairman of BGI. He said, “We are so excited to conduct ICG-Europe, the first international conference on genomics in Europe. I heartily hope it could provide an excellent platform for researchers to exchange their knowledge and insights on Omics-related research.”

Subsequently, several excellent presentations were delivered by researchers from Aarhus University, Helmholtz Institute for Pharmaceutical Research Saarland, Karolinska Institute, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, CeBiTec Bielefeld University, University of Freiburg Medical Center, Imperial College London, University of Gothenburg, among others.

Professor Lars Bolund gave a detailed introduction on “Chronic Diseases versus Healthy Aging”. He mentioned that common chronic disorders might be genetically very heterogeneous with many subtypes showing Mendelian inheritance with quite high penetrance. Finding such monogenetic causes will allow truly personalized prevention and treatment. He stressed that genetics was just the first step – functional studies in model systems would be necessary.

Professor Jun Wang, Executive Director of BGI, introduced BGI’s genomics research and “Three Million Genomes Projects” consisted of the “Million Plant and Animal Genomes Project,” “Million Human Genomes Project” and “Million Micro-Ecosystem Project”. He said, “Due to next-gen sequencing (NGS) technologies, advancements in genomics have been moving rapidly forward. BGI focuses on translating Omics-related research into molecular breeding and disease-associated studies with the aim to boost the rapid development of agriculture, medicine, drug development and clinical treatment, among others.”

In the session featured by “Data/ Bio-Cloud Computing”, experts presented their views and solutions on handling the tremendous genomic data. Dr. Scott Edmunds, the senior editor of GigaScience, mentioned the problem of data dissemination caused by the data deluge. He said, “With the larger and larger amounts of data likely to be produced by ‘mega-sequencing projects’, the time and effort needed for data sharing is likely to get worse. GigaScience and GigaDB, an innovative new journal and integrated database published by BGI and BioMed Central, provide a novel publication format for large-scale data, and allow researcher to publish high quality data in a very short time.”

Dr. Yan Li from BGI, presented an introduction on SOAPhecate and SOAPgaea. She said, “SOAPhecate and SOAPgaea are two of the key components of the flexible green cloud computing infrastructure at BGI for de novo Assembly and NGS Analysis. They have successfully been applied into analyzing the sequencing data in clinical and biological research with fast turnaround time, high efficiency and low cost.” In this April, BGI received 2012 best practices award at Bio-IT World Expo for its flexible green cloud computing infrastructure for de novo assembly and re-sequencing analysis.

During the session themed “Diagnosis and Clinical Sequencing”, a series of excellent presentations were delivered, such as “Massively Parallel Sequencing for Human Blastocyst Trophectoderm Cells Chromosomal Abnormality Screening”, “Pharmacogenetics in hispanics: Clinical relevance for antidepressant drugs response and suicide”, “HaloPlex PCR, a simple and high-performing approach for targeted re-sequencing”, and so on.

Professor William Newman from University of Manchester introduced his views on NGS in the diagnosis of single gene disorders. He said, “NGS has transformed our ability to identify novel disease genes and diagnose single gene disorders. The power of sequencing has been realized in the clinical setting where there is extensive genetic heterogeneity. In Manchester, our group has developed a targeted panel to provide genetic testing to patent with retinal dystrophies, a highly complex heterogeneous group of disorders.”

In addition to the above sessions, the others focused on “Human Disease”, “Microbial &Meta Sequencing”, “Plant and Animal Genomics”, and “Bio-Banking” also have been smoothly conducted. Meanwhile, two workshops were held in ICG-Europe, one focused on ELSIs referred to the multi-dimensional issues and interrelationship among Environment, Health and Society, and the other was featured by “Collaboration between Academic & Industrial; China & Europe”.

Yeyang Su from BGI, attended the workshop themed “Improving Biotech Collaboration”, and she said, “It has become an increasing trend to develop new collaborations between academic and industrial, and to strengthen the extensive cooperation between China and European countries. This could minimize costs for R&D and clinical trials and share risks, and facilitate access to strategic knowledge and resources.”

Karsten Kristiansen, Professor of Molecular Biology and Head of the Department of Biology, University of Copenhagen, as one of the co-organisers of the conference; he was delighted to see that BGI decided to host the first ICG Europe at University of Copenhagen in Denmark, and he also expressed his heartiest congratulations on the great success of the conference.

ICG-Europe provides an excellent platform for researchers to exchange their knowledge and insights on NGS and advanced bioinformatics technologies, and their growing application in drug discovery and development, disease research, clinical diagnostics, agricultural breeding, and evolution and conservation. As a world-class research organization, BGI has established its own technology platforms based on large-scale genome sequencing, efficient bioinformatics analysis, and innovative Omics-related initiatives. In the future, BGI will continue to increase the domestic and international scientific cooperation and bring more advancement to benefit the society.

About GigaScience

GigaScience is an upcoming new journal that is co-published by BGI and BioMed Central. The journal aims to revolutionize data dissemination, organization, understanding, and use. GigaScience is an online open-access, open-data journal that publishes "big data” studies from the entire spectrum of life and biomedical sciences. To achieve its goals, the journal has a novel publication format: one that links standard manuscript publication with an extensive database that hosts all associated data and provides data analysis tools and cloud-computing resources. The scope of GigaScience covers large-scale life-science data, including imaging, neuroscience, ecology, medicine, systems biology, ‘omics’ and other types of large-scale sharable data. The impact of data sharing in these fields is enormous – it increases the visibility of labs and a researcher’s work, enables stronger data analysis and interpretation, leads to better experimental reproducibility, promotes the development of new tools and methods, and creates new training opportunities for students.

Editor-in-Chief: Laurie Goodman, PhD; Editor: Scott Edmunds, PhD; Assistant Editor: Alexandra Basford, PhD. Contact: editorial@gigasciencejournal.com; Twitter: @gigascience

For more information about GigaScience and GigaDB, please visit: www.gigasciencejournal.com and www.gigadb.org