July 21, 2011
Mary Ann Brown (Executive Director, Conferences, Cambridge Healthtech Institute) : I was once asked, “Why do you organize conferences?” My answer: In my own way I am advancing scientific research. Specifically I design conferences to bring researchers together. All of my conference participants have different backgrounds, from academic research centers to start-up entrepreneurial companies to established research firms from biotech and pharma. These attendees are focused and excited about their research. It is evident by the energy and discussions that take place either from the scientific podium, during the question and answer sessions, at the poster sessions, in the exhibit hall, or just in the hallway. From my perspective, bringing the right researchers together and setting aside the time to focus on a specific research topic creates a collaborative community to advance science.
As an example, the NGx Applying Next-Generation Sequencing and the Next-Generation Sequencing Data Management meetings this September 26-28 in Providence, Rhode Island are noted for advancing NGS technologies into the clinic specifically in the areas of personalized medicine and cancer. The companion data management meeting completes the picture with analyzing these NGS data sets. They are also affectionately known as the Providence NGS meetings.
Recently, I had the pleasure of interviewing three speakers from the meeting: Toby Bloom, Director, Informatics, Genome Sequencing Platform, at the Broad Institute; David Smith, Professor, Lab Medicine & Pathology, Mayo Clinic, and Gholson Lyon, Research Scientist, Center for Applied Genomics, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.
In these interviews, I asked about their experiences with NGS and how they are benefiting from the data bonanza. Toby discusses The Broad’s current and future data management infrastructure to support a major sequencing center’s data outpoint. David addresses his role in setting up a sequencing laboratory at a major cancer clinic and Gholson highlights his use of the software VAAST to discover rare Mendelian disorders.
It has been a pleasure to watch the next-generation sequencing field explode over the last six years. When I first started organizing NGS meetings, it was difficult to even find a sequencing paper in PubMed let alone find a research scientist that was willing to part with their brand new sequencer to attend a meeting and share insights. A lot has changed since then. This disruptive technology has changed the research landscape and the landscape of research possibilities. NGS now allows rapid and in depth interrogation of the genome from DNA sequence to DNA regulation to transcription to determine the genomic underpinnings of health and disease. To sequence or not to sequence is no longer the question...
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