Speakers & Discussion Leaders

Goncalo Abecasis

Goncalo Abecasis is a Professor of Biostatistics. He received his D.Phil. in Human Genetics from the University of Oxford in 2001 and joined the faculty at the University of Michigan in the same year. Dr. Abecasis' research focuses on the development of statistical tools for the identification and study of genetic variants important in human disease. Software developed by Dr. Abecasis at the University of Michigan is used in several hundred gene-mapping projects around the world.

Sharon Begley

Sharon Begley is the senior science writer at STAT where she covers genetics, cancer, neuroscience, and other fields of basic biomedical research. She was previously the senior health and science correspondent at Reuters, the science columnist at The Wall Street Journal, and the science editor at Newsweek. Among her favorite awards are an honorary doctorate from the University of North Carolina and the Public Understanding of Science Award from the Exploratorium in San Francisco.

Christoph Bock

Christoph Bock is a genome scientist and principal investigator at CeMM. He is also a guest professor at the Medical University of Vienna's Department for Laboratory Medicine, coordinator of the Biomedical Sequencing Facility and adjunct group leader at the Max Planck Institute for Informatics. He has a background in bioinformatics and epigenomics, with a PhD from the Max Planck Institute for Informatics (Germany) and postdoctoral research at the Broad Institute and Harvard University (Cambridge, USA).

James Crowe

James Crowe is Professor of Pediatrics, Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology, Ann Scott Carell Chair, and Director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center. His laboratory has a broad portfolio of work in the area of human immunology and immune repertoires, with an aim to discovery of mechanisms important to development of new vaccines. He has worked in East and West Africa, and has research collaborations ongoing with investigators in Uganda, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Chile and other international sites. He is the Director of the Human Immunome Project, an ambitious effort to identify the sequence of all transcripts for adaptive immune receptors on the planet. He is an elected member of the National Academy of Medicine, and has been the recipient of a number of major investigator awards for research, including the Judson Daland Prize of the American Philosophical Society, the Oswald Avery Award of the IDSA, the E. Mead Johnson Award for Excellence in Pediatrics, the Outstanding Investigator Award of the American Federation for Medical Research and the Norman J. Siegel Award of the American Pediatric Society. He is an elected Fellow of AAM, AAAS, ASCI and AAP, IDSA, APS and others.

Finale Doshi-Velez

Finale Doshi-Velez is excited about methods to turn data into actionable knowledge. Her core research in machine learning, computational statistics, and data science is inspired by---and often applied to---the objective of accelerating scientific progress and practical impact in healthcare and other domains. Specifically, she is interested in questions such as: How can we design robust, principled models to combine complex data sets with other knowledge sources? How can we design models that summarize and generate hypotheses from such data? How can we characterize the uncertainty in large, heterogeneous data to provide better support for decisions? Finale Doshi-Velez is interested in developing the probabilistic methods to address these questions. Prior to joining SEAS, Finale Doshi-Velez was an NSF CI-TRaCS Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School. She was a Marshall Scholar at Trinity College, Cambridge from 2007-2009, and she was named one of IEEE's "AI Top 10 to Watch" in 2013.

Janet Freeman-Daily

Janet Freeman-Daily, MS, ENG, was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer in May 2011. Despite two lines of conventional therapy (chemo and radiation), her cancer became metastatic. She used information obtained in online patient communities to get her tumor tissue tested for newer molecular markers and find a targeted therapy clinical trial. She is not cured, but has had No Evidence of Disease since January 2013. She now uses her writing and speaking skills, MIT and Caltech degrees, and aerospace systems engineering background to translate the experience and science of lung cancer treatment and research, pursue improved quality of life and outcomes for lung cancer patients, and promote patient engagement and activism. Her accomplishments include writing science articles and an award-winning blog (grayconnections.net), co-moderating Lung Cancer Social Media (#LCSM) Chat on Twitter, participating in President’s Cancer Panel connected health workshops, speaking at cancer centers and medical conferences, and serving as a patient advocate on the University of Colorado Cancer Center Lung Cancer SPORE, the Addario Patient and Caregiver Advisory Board, and the eHealth Steering Committee at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle. She was named a Lung Hero by LUNGevity, and one of Seattle’s Most Influential People for 2015. Follow her @JFreemanDaily

Jack Gilbert

Jack A. Gilbert is Group Leader for Microbial Ecology at Argonne National Laboratory, Professor in the Department of Surgery at the University of Chicago, Associate Director of the Institute of Genomic and Systems Biology, Research Associate at the Field Museum of Natural History, and Senior Scientist at the Marine Biological Laboratory. Dr. Gilbert uses molecular analysis and sequencing tools to test fundamental hypotheses in microbial ecology. He has authored more than 180 peer-reviewed publications and book chapters on metagenomics and approaches to ecosystem ecology (www.gilbertlab.com). He is currently working on generating observational and mechanistic models of microbial communities in natural, urban, built and human ecosystems. He is on the advisory board of the Genomic Standards Consortium, and is the founding Editor in Chief of mSystems. Among other projects, he leads the Earth Microbiome Project, Home Microbiome Project, Hospital Microbiome Project, and co-founded American Gut. In 2014 he was recognized on Crain’s Business Chicago’s 40 Under 40 List, and in 2015 he was listed as one of the 50 most influential scientists by Business Insider.

Jessica Green

Jessica Green is an Alec and Kay Keith Professor of Biology at the University of Oregon, where she is founding Director of the Biology and the Built Environment (BioBE) Center, and external faculty at the Santa Fe Institute. As co-founder and CTO of Phylagen Inc., a data harvesting and analytics company based in San Francisco, Green envisions a future for building and urban design that promotes sustainability, human health, and well-being. She is internationally recognized for research in biodiversity theory and microbial systems, with highly cited articles in Nature, Science, and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Her work has been featured in Time, Forbes, The Economist, ABC, NBC, and NPR. She has been honored with a Blaise Pascale International Research Chair, a John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation Fellowship, and a TED Senior Fellowship. She completed a PhD in nuclear engineering at UC Berkeley, and earned a BS in civil and environmental engineering at UCLA.

Danny Hillis

W. Daniel ("Danny") Hillis is the cofounder of Applied Invention, an interdisciplinary group of engineers, scientists and artists that develop technology solutions in partnership with leading companies and entrepreneurs. He is also the cofounder of Applied Minds, and several spinoff companies, including Applied Proteomics, TouchShare, and Metaweb. Additionally, Hillis is Visiting Professor at the MIT Media Lab and Widney Professor of Engineering and Medicine of the University of Southern California (USC). Previously, he was Vice President & Disney Fellow, Research and Development at Walt Disney Imagineering, and cofounder of Thinking Machines. An inventor, scientist, engineer, author, and visionary, Hillis pioneered the concept of parallel computers that is now the basis for most supercomputers, as well as the RAID disk array technology used to store large databases. He holds hundreds of U.S. patents, and is a Member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the Association of Computing Machinery, and a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He is co-chair of The Long Now Foundation and the designer of a 10,000 year mechanical clock.

Kathy Hudson

Kathy Hudson is the Deputy Director for Science, Outreach and Policy at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). Dr. Hudson leads the science policy, legislation, communications and outreach efforts of the NIH and serves as a senior advisor to the NIH Director. She is responsible for creating major new strategic and scientific initiatives for NIH and is currently leading the planning and creation of the President’s Precision Medicine Initiative. Dr. Hudson was a key architect of the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences and the NIH BRAIN Initiative. She directs the agency’s efforts to advance biomedical science through policy development and innovative projects and partnerships. Dr. Hudson holds a Ph.D. in molecular biology from the University of California at Berkeley, an master’s of science in microbiology from the University of Chicago, and a bachelor of arts in biology from Carleton College.

Joi Ito

Joichi Ito is the director of the MIT Media Lab. He is chairman of the board of PureTech Health and a board member of Sony Corp., the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the Mozilla Foundation and The New York Times Co. He is the co-founder and a board member of Digital Garage, an Internet company in Japan. He has created numerous Internet companies, including PSINet Japan, Digital Garage and Infoseek Japan. He was an early-stage investor in Formlabs, Flickr, Kickstarter, littleBits, Path, Twitter, Wikia and other companies. In 2008, Ito was named by Businessweek as one of the 25 Most Influential People on the Web. In 2011, Foreign Policy Magazine named him one of the "Top 100 Global Thinkers." Also in 2011, he received the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Oxford Internet Institute in recognition of his role as one of the world's leading advocates of Internet freedom. In 2011 and 2012, Nikkei Business selected him as one of the 100 most influential people for the future of Japan. In 2013, Ito was awarded a Doctor of Literature, honoris causa, from The New School. In 2014, he was inducted into the SXSW Interactive Festival Hall of Fame and was awarded the Golden Plate Award by the Academy of Achievement. In 2015, Ito was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters, honoris causa, from Tufts University.

Hiroaki Kitano

Hiroaki Kitano is a pioneer in systems biology and a world expert in artificial intelligence and robotics. He is head of the Systems Biology Institute (SBI); President and CEO of Sony Computer Science Laboratories; a Group Director of the Laboratory for Disease Systems Modeling at the RIKEN Center for Integrative Medical Sciences; and a professor at Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology (OIST). Currently he is Editor-in-Chief of Nature Partner Journal (npj) Systems Biology and Applications, a joint venture journal between Nature Publishing Group and SBI. Kitano is known for developing AIBO and the robotic world cup tournament known as RoboCup where he is serving as a founding President of the RoboCup Federation. He created the International Conference on Systems Biology (ICSB) that is the main conference in the field of systems biology, established the International Society for Systems Biology (ISSB), initiated a series of standard formation and interoperability efforts in systems biology - now known as Systems Biology Markup Language (SBML) and Systems Biology Graphical Notation (SBGN) - and Garuda Platform. Kitano received the Computers and Thought Award in 1993, a special prize of Prix Ars Electronica in 2000, and Nature Award for Creative Mentoring in Science in 2009. He was an invited artist for La Biennale di Venezia in 2000 and for the Worksphere exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) New York in 2001. image credit: joi, CC-BY

Rob Knight

Rob Knight is Professor of Pediatrics and Computer Science & Engineering at the University of California, San Diego, and author of “Follow Your Gut: The Enormous Impact of Tiny Microbes”. He received a B.Sc. in Biochemistry in 1996 from the University of Otago in his native New Zealand, a PhD in 2001 from Princeton University in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, and performed postdoctoral work at the University of Colorado, Boulder before becoming a faculty member in the interdisciplinary BioFrontiers Institute there in 2004. He moved to UC San Diego in 2015 to direct the new Microbiome Initiative. His work focuses on using readout technologies such as next-generation sequencing to improve our understanding of the structure, function and dynamics of the human microbiome, contributing to the main data analysis in the NIH-funded Human Microbiome Project. He is co-founder of the Earth Microbiome Project and the American Gut Project. Current research interests include relating the human mcirobiome to diseases ranging from obesity to mental illness, spatial and temporal mapping of microbial communities on different scales ranging from our bodies to our planet, and developing new data visualization methods that assist in resolving the challenge of microbial “Big Data”.

Rachel Liao

Rachel Liao is Senior Project Manager at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, where she supports the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health, a non-profit advocacy organization promoting open and federated data-sharing for clinical and genomic data, as Coordinator for the Clinical Working Group. She also manages the BRCA Challenge, an international data sharing project demonstrating the value of federated data sharing of BRCA1/2 variant and case-level data to support improved variant curation and data access through the BRCA Exchange portal. Dr. Liao was formerly a postdoctoral fellow at the Broad Institute in the field of human complex disease genetics and holds a Ph.D. in functional cancer genomics from Harvard.

Corrie Painter

Corrie Painter is the Associate Director of Operations and Scientific Outreach at the Broad Institute. A trained cancer researcher with a Ph.D. in biochemistry, Painter partners with advocacy groups and engages patients with metastatic breast cancer through social media in order to carry out the metastatic breast cancer project, a genomics study conducted at the Broad Institute where patients can consent online to donate their stored tumor samples, saliva, medical records and their voice in order to directly accelerate the pace of discovery. These efforts can be followed on Twitter #MBCproject, @MBC_project, @Corrie_Painter, on FaceBook, The Metastatic Breast Cancer Project, and in the news/blog section of MBCproject.org. Painter, an angiosarcoma survivor, is also a passionate leading patient advocate who co-founded and serves as the Vice President of Angiosarcoma Awareness, an organization that supports research and awareness efforts surrounding this disease. Prior to joining the Broad, Painter was a Cancer Research Institute Irvington Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, where she developed zebrafish as a model system to explore tumor immunology. Painter is the recipient of the 2013 Courage Award of the Sarcoma Foundation of America. Her research has been published in journals such as Nature Structural and Molecular Biology, the Journal of Biological Chemistry, and Nature Chemical Biology.

Geoffrey Siwo

Geoffrey Siwo's main interest is in developing scalable technologies for large scale medical discovery, especially in Africa. He is currently a Research Scientist at IBM Research-Africa in Johannesburg, South Africa where he is initiating new projects in digital medicine. Previously, he co-founded several award winning teams leveraging computing and biology to seek solutions to tough biological problems including Helix Nanotechnologies - a company developing a DNA based molecular recording device currently supported by Johnson and Johnson, Fit2Cure - a computer game for finding new medicines, DNAge - a computational pipeline for predicting human age from DNA awarded top prize in an open innovation challenge by Innocentive and Nature Publishing Group, and FIrST - a team that won an open innovation challenge to predict activity of genes from DNA. He is the recipient of several awards including a TED Fellow, a Young African Committed to Excellence award (YACE), Young Investigator Award (Sage Bionetworks), IBM PhD Fellowship and Eck Institute Global Health Fellow. His work has been featured in several media including USA Today and Fast Company. He received his PhD in Biological Sciences at the University of Notre Dame (2014) working on computational models for understanding malaria drug resistance.

Mike Snyder

Mike Snyder is the Stanford Ascherman Professor and Chair of Genetics and the Director of the Center of Genomics and Personalized Medicine. Dr. Snyder received his Ph.D. training at the California Institute of Technology and carried out postdoctoral training at Stanford University. He is a leader in the field of functional genomics and proteomics, and one of the major participants of the ENCODE project. His laboratory study was the first to perform a large-scale functional genomics project in any organism, and has developed many technologies in genomics and proteomics. These include the development of proteome chips, high resolution tiling arrays for the entire human genome, methods for global mapping of transcription factor binding sites (ChIP-chip now replaced by ChIP-seq), paired end sequencing for mapping of structural variation in eukaryotes, de novo genome sequencing of genomes using high throughput technologies and RNA-Seq. He has also combined different state-of–the-art “omics” technologies to perform the first longitudinal detailed integrative personal omics profile (iPOP) of person and used this to assess disease risk and monitor disease states for personalized medicine. He is a cofounder of several biotechnology companies, including Protometrix (now part of Life Tehcnologies), Affomix (now part of Illumina), Excelix, and Personalis, and he presently serves on the board of a number of companies.

Erika von Mutius

Erika von Mutius is Professor of Pediatrics and holds a degree in Epidemiology from Harvard School of Public Health, USA. She is head of the Asthma and Allergy Clinics at the Dr von Hauner Children’s Hospital of Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich and the Munich University Asthma and Allergy Research Group. She is member of the Editorial Board of the New England Journal of Medicine. Also, since April 2010 she has been Associate Editor of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. In June 2010 she was awarded the honorary doctorate from the University of Helsinki and in March 2013 she received the most important German research prize, the Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz Award. Professor von Mutius’ working group has been actively involved in design, implementation and data analysis of many large, Pan-European multicenter and interdisciplinary projects, including birth cohort studies, addressing the role of genetic and environmental, particularly microbial factors for the development of asthma and allergic diseases.

Sonia and Eric

In 2010, Sonia Vallabh watched her 52 year old mother die of a rapid, mysterious, undiagnosed neurodegenerative disease. One year later, Sonia learned that her mother's disease had been genetic, and that she herself had inherited the causal mutation, making it very likely she would suffer the same fate in 20 years' time. There was no prevention, treatment, or cure available. Despite having no prior training in biology, Sonia and her husband Eric Minikel set out to re-train themselves as scientists and devote their lives to searching for a treatment or cure for her disease. They quit their jobs in consulting, started a scientific blog, began taking night classes and attending conferences, found new jobs in research labs, and eventually enrolled as PhD students in biology at Harvard Medical School. They are now based in Stuart Schreiber's laboratory at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and have launched a new therapeutic initiative to discover drugs for her disease.



Speaker list is subject to change.