Keolu Fox Ph.D., Kānaka Maoli (Native Hawaiian) is an assistant professor at University of California, San Diego, affiliated with the Department of Anthropology, the Global Health Program, the Halıcıoğlu Data Science Institute, the Climate Action Lab, and the Indigenous Futures Lab. He holds a Ph.D. in Genome Sciences from the University of Washington, Seattle (2016). Dr. Fox’s multi-disciplinary research interests include genome sequencing, genome engineering, computational biology, evolutionary genetics, paleogenetics, and Indigenizing biomedical research. His primary research focuses on questions of functionalizing genomics, testing theories of natural selection by editing genes and determining the functions of mutations.
Georgina Hold is the Professor of Gut Health and Microbiology at the St George and Sutherland Clinical School, UNSW Australia. She has 25 years’ experience working in microbiome research in Australia, USA and UK, including a Fulbright Scholarship at Harvard University (2014/2015). Her research focusses on understanding the impact of gastrointestinal microbes on human health and disease, with a particular focus on Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Developing greater understanding of the microbiota allows us to further appreciate the contribution that microbes play in diseases and potentially develop therapeutic strategies to maintain and restore health. Her lab has an internationally renowned reputation for multi-omic microbiota analysis. This has been achieved by a) developing robust protocols for collecting and processing the most clinically relevant samples, and b) ensuring the science is clinically driven. The main challenges in gut microbiome research relate to: 1) defining the point at which microbiota changes occur, which is in advance of clinical symptoms/disease presentation, 2) understanding the metabolic capabilities of the gut microbiota, 3) the effect of therapeutic regimens on the gut microbiota and ultimately identifying how to manipulate these factors to promote/maintain health. This requires multi-disciplinary research strategies harnessing clinicians, microbiologists, nutritionists, epidemiologists, bioinformaticians and also public health analysts. To achieve this, she collaborates with groups all over the world to ensure the skills sets required to address these multi-faceted research questions are brought together. Her research is supported through grants awarded from ARC, Pfizer, St George and Sutherland Medical Research Foundation (SSMRF), GESA and Sydney Children’s Hospital Network.
Georgina heads up the Sydney+ IBD Research Consortium; a multi-disciplinary team of clinicians, scientists, data analysts and also public health analysts. In 2019 The Australian IBD Microbiome (AIM) Study was launched as the inaugural research focus of the consortium. AIM Study is the largest IBD longitudinal cohort study every run in Australia. Despite only having launched in 2019 and despite the impact of COVID, AIM already has over 500 recruits. AIM Study will allow us to more fully understand the IBD patient journey which will ultimately help us improve patient health.
As a world authority on the gut microbiome, Georgina is invited to speak all over the world and is a passionate advocate for public engagement and empowering individuals to get involved in their health. Today, she is not only Professor of Gut Health and Microbiology, UNSW but also the Chair of South Eastern Sydney Local Health District Human Research Ethics Committee.
Prof Hayes completed a PhD at the University of Groningen, The Netherlands in 1999, defining the genetic landscape of key regulator genes driving common human cancers. Returning to South Africa briefly, she headed a Genetics Laboratory focused on genetic risk factors associated with HIV/AIDS. Her interest in prostate cancer sparked by the late Prof Chris Heyns (1949-2014).
In 2003, she joined the Garvan Institute of Medical Research where she led a Cancer Genetics group focused on defining prostate cancer genetic risk factors in Australian men. This work awarded her the Cancer Institute of New South Wales Premier’s Award for Cancer Research Fellow (2007), an Australian Young Tall Poppy Award for Science (2008) and the Australian Academy of Science Inaugural Ruth Stephens Gani Medal for Human Genetics (2008).
Driven by advances in technology, in 2008 she moved to the Children’s Cancer Institute of Australia to establish one of the country’s first next generation sequencing research laboratories. She used this technology to drive two large efforts, namely the Southern African Genome Project (Nature 2010) and the Tasmanian Devil Genome Project (PNAS 2011). These efforts resulted in representing Australia as a Fulbright Professional Scholar (Penn State University) and a Professorship at the J. Craig Venter Institute in San Diego.
In 2014, Prof Hayes returned full-time to Australia and the Garvan Institute of Medical Research as the University of Sydney’s Petre Chair of Prostate Cancer Research, where she is continuing her research efforts in human comparative and prostate cancer genomics. She has maintained her interest in technology development.
Professor Eddie Holmes is known for his work on the evolution and emergence of infectious diseases, particularly the mechanisms by which RNA viruses jump species boundaries to emerge in humans and other animals. He currently holds an ARC Australian Laureate Fellowship. He has studied the emergence and spread of such pathogens as avian influenza virus, dengue virus, HIV, hepatitis C virus, myxoma virus, RHDV and Yersinia pestis. His previous appointments include Verne M. Willaman Chair in the Life Sciences and Eberly College of Science Distinguished Senior Scholar (2007-2012) at the Pennsylvania State University, USA, and Affiliate Member of the Fogarty International Centre (2005-2012), National Institutes of Health, USA. From 1999-2004 he was Fellow of New College, Oxford. He is a Fellow of both the Australian Academy of Science and the UK Royal Society.
His interest in the emergence and spread of novel viral infections began in the late 1980s/early 1990s, as this was a time of the highest rates of HIV-associated deaths and when hepatitis C virus was first identified. He has spent 30 years using molecular genetic techniques to understand the determinants of cross-species pathogen transmission and emergence. His work has helped define the barriers faced by viruses as they emerge in new hosts, determine the range of transmission patterns exhibited by emerging viruses, and establish genetic models for host switching. Currently, he is using metagenomic techniques to reveal the diversity of the virosphere and determine the possible microbial cause of disease syndromes (e.g. emerging tick-borne disease in Australia). The data generated will be used to reveal some of the fundamental rules of virus ecology and evolution, and understand the measurable impact of the novel infections on public and animal health. He is also using ‘ancient DNA’ to investigate the causes and patterns of spread of past pandemics such as plague and smallpox.
Weill Cornell Medicine and WorldQuant Initiative for Quantitative Prediction
Dr. Christopher Mason is a Professor of Genomics, Physiology, and Biophysics at Weill Cornell Medicine. He completed a dual B.S. in Genetics & Biochemistry at University of Wisconsin-Madison (2001), a Ph.D. in Genetics from Yale University (2006), Post-doctoral Fellowship in Clinical Genetics at Yale Medical School (2009) while also serving as the first Visiting Fellow of Genomics, Ethics, and Law at the Information Society Project at Yale Law School (2006-2009).
In 2010, he became an Assistant Professor of Genomics, Physiology, and Biophysics at Weill Cornell Medicine, then promoted to Associate Professor in 2015, made the Director of the WorldQuant Initiative for Quantitative Prediction in 2017, and promoted to Full Professor in 2021. He also holds appointments at Tri-Institutional Program on Computational Biology and Medicine (Cornell, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and Rockefeller University), the Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center, the Feil Family Brain and Mind Research Institute, (BMRI), and is an affiliate fellow of the Information Society Project (ISP) at Yale Law School, affiliate faculty of the Consortium for Space Genetics at Harvard Medical School, and a Core Faculty Member of New York Genome Center (NYGC).
Dr Mason was named as one of the “Brilliant Ten” Scientists by Popular Science, featured as a TEDMED speaker, and called “The Genius of Genetics” by 92Y. He has >250 peer-reviewed papers and scholarly works that have been featured on the covers of Nature, Science, Cell, Nature Biotechnology, Nature Microbiology, and Neuron, as well as legal briefs cited by the U.S. District Court and U.S. Supreme Court. He is an inventor on four patents, co-founder of five biotechnology start-up companies, and serves as an advisor to 17 others as well as 3 non-profits.
Professor Alison Van Eenennaam is a Professor of Cooperative Extension in the field of Animal Genomics and Biotechnology in the Department of Animal Science at University of California, Davis. She received a Bachelor of Agricultural Science from the University of Melbourne in Australia, and both an MS in Animal Science, and a PhD in Genetics from UC Davis.
Her publicly funded research and outreach program focuses on the use of animal genomics and biotechnology in livestock production systems. Her current research projects include the development of genome editing approaches for cattle. She has given over 700 invited presentations to audiences globally and uses a variety of media to inform general public audiences about science and technology.
A passionate advocate of science, Dr. Van Eenennaam was the recipient of the Council for Agricultural Science and Technology 2014 Borlaug Communication Award and the American Society of Animal Science 2019 Rockefeller Prentice Award in Animal Breeding and Genetics.
Dr Worthey work in the Department of Pediatrics in the Division of PediatricHematology/Oncology as the director for the Center for Genomic Data Sciences in the Departments of Pediatrics and Pathology in the School of Medicine. As part of her secondary appointment in the Department of Pathology, Dr. Worthey serves as the director of the Bioinformatics Section in the Division of Genomics Diagnostics and Bioinformatics. She also serves as the associate director for the Hugh Kaul Precision Medicine Institute.
Dr. Worthey received her Ph.D. at the Imperial College London in London, England and completed her postdoctoral training at the Seattle Biomedical Research Institute and the University of Washington in Seattle, Washington. Her research interests include the development and application of omic, informatic, and data science-based methods and technologies in order to identify and understand causal molecular variation in rare, undiagnosed or misdiagnosed disease. Her lab also focuses on the identification and study of variation that alters an individual’s response to therapeutics or modifies clinical presentation, progression, and/or outcome. Read More
After receiving his Ph. D. from the University of Sussex, in England studying nitrogen regulation in bacteria, Dr. Edwards moved to the United States to continue his studies. He worked as a Post-Doctoral Researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, understanding how a leading cause of traveller’s diarrhea (E. coli)causes disease. Dr. Edwards then moved to the University of Illinois, Urbana Champaign to study another food-borne pathogen, Salmonella. These studies merged the nascent area of genomics with traditional microbial genetics to investigate how a particular type of Salmonella became the leading cause of food-borne illness in the United States.
From 2000 to 2004, Dr. Edwards was an Assistant Professor at the University of Tennessee Health Sciences Center in Memphis, TN. Here, Dr. Edwards continued his studies on pathogenic bacteria, notably Salmonella and the bioterrorism weapon Francisella. Dr. Edwards received FBI clearance to work on these bacteria and was invited to the NIH to comment on the use of Select Agents at basic research laboratories.
In 2004, Dr. Edwards moved to the non-profit Fellowship for Interpretation of Genomes to work at the interface of biologists and computer scientists and worked with their team at Argonne National Laboratory. He remains an active software developer for Argonne and the Fellowship, developing open-source software including PERL and Python software for biological analysis and parallel computing that are used by scientists worldwide. Using breakout DNA sequencing technologies, Dr. Edwards’ studies have continually pushed the forefront of both sequencing technology and bioinformatics. His work has been published in leading journals including multiple papers in both Nature and Science.
Dr. Edwards returned to academia in 2007, taking a research and teaching position in the Departments of Computer Science and Biology at San Diego State University where he rose through the ranks to become a Full Professor. He continued to work at the interface of biology and computing. The National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education, the Department of Defense, the USGS, and private donors funded Dr. Edwards’ research at SDSU, and his work led to breakthroughs in our understanding of how viruses interact with their hosts, and how viruses from around the world carry important genetic information. Dr. Edwards has continued to push current sequencing and bioinformatics technologies, in 2013 took a next-generation sequencing machine to the remote Southern Line Islands to explore metagenomics of coral reefs in real-time. In 2014 Dr. Edwards’ team identified a virus that is present in the intestines of approximately half the people in the world, and in 2019 Dr. Edwards demonstrated the global spread of the virus in a paper that includes collaborators from every continent who collected and sequenced samples. In 2017, Dr. Edwards was elected to the American Academy of Microbiology in recognition of his contributions to the field of microbiology. In 2020, Dr. Edwards took the position of Matthew Flinders Fellow in Bioinformatics at Flinders University, in Adelaide, South Australia, Australia to start the Flinders Accelerator for Microbiome Exploration, to enhance microbiome and metagenome studies in South Australia.
Committed to teaching, Dr. Edwards received the graduate student award for the outstanding educator at the University of Tennessee, the teacher-scholar award and outstanding faculty award four times at San Diego State University. He was Graduate Advisor to the Biological and Medical Informatics Program at SDSU. Rob travels extensively to share his passion for bioinformatics and has taught bioinformatics classes around the US, and in Australia, China, Chile, Europe, Mexico, and North and South America. Dr. Edwards holds a visiting professor position at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro.
In addition to science and teaching Dr. Edwards is also an advanced scientific SCUBA diver having led teams to study Coral Reefs all over the world. In his spare time, he is an avid international yachtsman, navigating in long-distance offshore races, including navigating the 2019 TransPac race from Los Angeles to Honolulu finishing 4th out of 89 boats.