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GLBIO 2017 | May 15- 17, 2017 | Univ. of Illinois at Chicago | KEYNOTE SPEAKERS



Associate Professor
Department of Human Genetics
Division of Biological Sciences
University of Chicago

Tools for Visualizing Population Structure in Genetic Data

Population structure is a fundamental feature of genetic data that has importance for addressing questions in evolutionary biology, conservation genetics, and trait mapping. In humans, population structure 1) gives perspective on human origins and history, 2) sheds light on evolutionary processes that have shaped human adaptation and disease, and 3) must be understood for effectively carrying out global medical genetics and personalized medicine. Techniques for elucidating population structure rely heavily on a suite of statistical methods with various tradeoffs. In this talk, I will present on my group's research into several models and methods for studying population structure, with a special focus on challenges for studying spatially distributed data and human genetic variation.

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Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service
Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics
Associate Dean, Global Health
Director, Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics
The University of Chicago Medicine

Using Big Data and Genomics to Achieve Health Equity

We are conducting a comparative analysis of the genomic landscape of breast cancer in populations of African and European ancestry from Nigeria and the US. At the molecular level, once intrinsic subtype frequency differences are accounted for, we found that there are few genomic or proteomic differences observed between blacks and whites.  However, we found that more than 40% of breast cancer subtype frequency differences may be explained by genetic ancestry. Our data underscores the need for integrating data from diverse populations to investigate genetic and non-genetic factors that contribute to the development and progression of breast cancer subtypes.  I will discuss our recent findings and future directions.

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Assistant Professor, Genetic Medicine
Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology
Center for Computational Biotechnology and Genomic Medicine (CCBGM)
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Transcriptome Variation in Human Immunity

To extend our understanding of the genetic basis of human immune function and dysfunction, we performed an expression quantitative trait locus (eQTL) study of purified CD4(+) T cells and monocytes, representing adaptive and innate immunity, in a multi-ethnic cohort of 461 healthy individuals. To further determine the extent to which human genetic variation affects the response to environmental stimuli, we applied experimental and computational approaches to determine the effects of genetic variation on the induction of pathogen-responsive genes in human dendritic cells derived from the same cohort. We also explored the genetic basis of variation in human adaptive immune responses in CD4+ T cells during unbiased activation and Th17 conditions. Our experimental design allowed us to examine context-specificity in gene regulation based on cell type, population ancestry, cellular activation status, and biological sex. We identified context-specific transcriptome variation, as well as context-specific cis- and trans-eQTLs that are highly relevant in the context of human disease. This work provides specific insights into the role of human genetic variation in immunity, and more generally establishes the importance of context-specificity in the manifestation and interpretation of function of genetic variants. 

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Clinical Assistant Professor & Director of Graduate Studies
College of Applied Health Sciences
Department of Biomedical and Health Information Sciences
University of Chicago

Out of Plato’s Cave: Attending to Society’s Disconnect with Science

American philosopher and educator John Dewey wrote, “Democracy has to be born anew in every generation, and education is its midwife.”  Over 100 years later this quote is still pertinent to our evolving American democracy.  In the last century, scientific and technological advancement have come to expose, if not create, deep rifts among societal, educational, and scientific values.  This keynote will discuss the ways in which education in health, science, and technology, steeped in deliberation of attendant ethical issues, can fill these societal voids and deliver our democracy to the next generation.

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John Novembre is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Genetics and the Department of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago.  His research develops statistical methods to address questions in evolutionary and population genetics with an emphasis on understanding human ancestry and demography. Most recently his group is focused on haplotype-based analyses of genetic variation and spatial population structure. Dr. Novembre has been awarded as a Searle Scholar, Sloan Research Fellow and MacArthur Fellow. He serves as an academic editor for the journals Genetics and Molecular Biology and Evolution and he sits on the Scientific Advisory Board for AncestryDNA. Dr. Novembre studied for his BA at Colorado College and his PhD at the University of California-Berkeley.  He was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Chicago and then faculty at UCLA for 5 years before returning to the University of Chicago in 2013.
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Dr. Olufunmilayo Falusi Olopade directs the Center for Clinical Cancer Genetics
and is Dean for Global Health and Walter L. Palmer Distinguished Service Professor of Medicine and Human Genetics at The University of Chicago. She developes innovative strategies for comprehensive cancer risk assessment and prevention based on evolving understanding of genetic and non-genetic factors in individual patients with a particular focus on women of African ancestry across the Diaspora.
Dr. Olopade has received numerous honors and awards, including honorary degrees from North Central, Dominican, Bowdoin, and Princeton universities. She is an elected member of the Association of American Physicians, National Academy of Medicine, American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. She currently serves on the board of directors for Susan G. Komen, Cancer IQ, Lyric Opera of Chicago, and the MacArthur Foundation.
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Barbara Stranger is an Assistant Professor in the Section of Genetic Medicine and the Institute for Genomics and Systems Biology. She has a longstanding interest in population genetics and gene regulatory processes, and how these shape phenotypic variability. Her lab collects and analyzes multidimensional human genomics data, particularly transcriptome data and genetic variation data, in the context of health and disease. Current projects include integrating regulatory genomics (including transcriptomics and proteomics) with human disease mapping, as well as characterizing the context specificity of genetic and epigenetic effects on gene regulation (e.g., cell and tissue type, sex, age).
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Eric S. Swirsky, JD, MA is a faculty member and the director of graduate studies in the Department of Biomedical and Health Information Sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). He received his juris doctor from American University, his master of arts in South Asian studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his bachelor’s degree in religious studies from Ithaca College. Professor Swirsky also completed a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago Medicine’s MacLean Center for Clinical Medical Ethics. As an ethicist-attorney, Swirsky serves on UI Health’s Ethics Committee, the CCTS Research Ethics Consultation Service, the Illinois POLST Taskforce, and other nonprofit organizations. As an educator, Swirsky has created ethics curricula from the undergraduate to the post-doctoral levels. He has received numerous awards and distinctions related to teaching, including a variety of peer and student nominated awards, honorary faculty appointments, designation as a UIC master teaching scholar, and his recent appointment to the Board of Directors for the Commission on Accreditation for Health Informatics and Information Management Education. His expansive scholarly interests revolve around the ethical conundra attendant to the use of health information technologies; in particular, Swirsky is interested in impacts upon clinical relationships, the delivery of health services, economics, and end of life decision-making. His areas of expertise reside in areas related to ethical use of information, medical technology, clinical intervention, and the sociotechnical milieu in which they converge.
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