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Speaker Profiles





Kevin A Davies Profile Picture

Kevin Davies, PhD

Author, The $1,000 Genome and Cracking the Genome; 

Founding Editor, Nature Genetics;

Executive Editor, The CRISPR Journal

Kevin Davies is a scientific editor, author and publisher. 25 years after establishing Nature Geneticsas the founding editor, he launched The CRISPR Journal, a new peer-review journal on gene editing (published by Mary Ann Liebert Inc.) He has also served as editor-in-chief of Cell Press and publisher of Chemical & Engineering News

Kevin is the author of several popular science books includingCracking the Genome and The $1,000 Genome. Last year he joined Jim Watson and Andrew Berry as a co-author of DNA: The Story of the Genetic Revolution. He is also the recipient of a 2017 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship and is working on a new book on genome editing.

Kevin graduated with a degree in biochemistry from Oxford University and obtained his PhD in human genetics from St Mary’s Hospital Medical School in London. After a pair of pathetic postdoctoral fellowships at MIT and Harvard Medical School, he sought refuge from the lab in science publishing, landing a job as genetics editor for Naturemagazine. 




Invited Speakers 


Niall Gormley_3

Niall Gormely, Illumina

Niall is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin (BA, Natural Sciences) and the University of York (DPhil, Chemistry). As a postdoc, first at the University of Leicester and later the University of Bristol, his research interests focused on elucidating the mechanisms of enzymes that interact with DNA, including topoisomerases and unconventional endonucleases. In 2001, Niall left academia and joined Solexa as one of its first few employees. Alongside his colleagues he developed Solexa’s ‘Next-Gen Sequencing’ technology that was acquired in 2007 by Illumina and today underpins the global Genomics revolution. He invented and developed some of the fundamental processes of Solexa/Illumina’s NGS biochemistry, including the ligation-based and surface-based transposome library preparation workflows. Today, Niall is a Principal Scientist at Illumina, based in Cambridge in the UK where he leads a team of scientists focusing on creating and developing novel workflows for preparing samples for sequencing on Illumina’s platforms.







Pedro Oliveira Profile Picture

Dr Pedro H. Oliveira

Pedro H. Oliveira earned his Ph.D. in Biotechnology from the Technical University of Lisbon in 2010. He initially continued his postdoctoral work at the Technical University of Lisbon, and later at Pasteur Institute in Paris. Since 2016 he holds a senior scientist position at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, New York, USA. His current scientific interests center on the bioinformatics and comparative genomics/epigenomics of bacteria, particularly in the interplay between methylation, gene flux, and chromosome organization.




Gemma Langridge profile picture

Dr Gemma Langridge

I am currently a Research Fellow at UEA, involved in a variety of projects looking at genetics and metabolism in Salmonella, Staphylococcus and Pseudomonas. I am particularly interested in using comparative genomics, transposon mutagenesis and metabolic reconstruction methods to unpick the impact of genetic mutations on bacterial niche adaptation.




Dr Sergey Koren

Sergey received his PhD in computer science in 2012 under the supervision of Mihai Pop at the University of Maryland. He joined the National Bioforensics Analysis Center in 2011 and was appointed as an associate principal investigator in 2014. During this time, he pioneered the use of single-molecule sequencing for the reconstruction of complete genomes. In 2015, he joined the National Human Genome Research Institute as a founding member of the Genome Informatics Section. His research focuses on the efficient analysis of large-scale genomic datasets and new methods for metagenomic analysis and assembly of high-noise single-molecule sequencing data.




Professor Federica Di Palma

Prof Federica Di Palma (PI) is the Director of Science at the Earlham Institute (EI), (and director of the BRIDGE Colombia network of researchers across the UK and Colombia).

Prof Di Palma leads a number of research programmes aimed at understanding the evolution of complex traits and the regulatory processes underlying evolutionary change. Her research spans a wide variety of vertebrate species including mammals and cichlids. She is also interested in using this genomic information for understanding keys organisms important for food security as well as the conservation of threatened and endangered species.

She has also implemented several research programmes for countries on the DAC list aimed at building partnerships, generating genomic resources and delivering technical training events in genomics and informatics.

Prof Di Palma received her Ph.D. in Immunogenetics from the Institute for Animal Health and the University of Reading, and was subsequently awarded a Fogarty Fellowship from the National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders (NIH). She was at the Hubbard Centre for Genome Studies, University of New Hampshire, where she was a research scientist and manager of the genome centre with a focus on environmentally important species. Before moving to Norwich, she was at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard where she served as Assistant Director of Vertebrate Genome Biology, and remains a visiting scientist. Prof Di Palma holds honorary Professorship positions at the School of Biological Science and Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia.




Professor Cathryn Lewis

Cathryn Lewis is Professor of Genetic Epidemiology & Statistics at King’s College London, where she leads the Statistical Genetics Unit.  Her academic training is in mathematics and statistics, and she has been involved in genetic studies since her PhD. She co-chairs the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium Major Depressive Disorder Working group, and leads the NIHR Maudsley BRC Biomarkers and Genomics theme. Her multi-disciplinary research group identifies and characterises genetic variants conferring risk of disease, including depression, schizophrenia, and stroke. A major focus is risk assessment, determining how the polygenic component of mental health disorders can be measured accurately and communicated effectively.  





Professor D. Gareth R. Evans

Professor Evans has established a national and international reputation in clinical and research aspects of cancer genetics, particularly in neurofibromatosis and breast cancer. 

He has published 719 peer reviewed research publications; 266 as first or senior author. He has published over 120 reviews and chapters and has had a book published by Oxford University Press on familial cancer. He has an ISI web of knowledge H-index of 97 and google scholar of 132 having only published his first article in 1990. In the last 7 years he has raised over £45 million in grants for multicentre and local studies – approximately £38 million to Manchester. He is Chief Investigator on two NIHR program grants (2009-2014-£1.59 million) (2017-2020-£1million) on breast cancer risk prediction and also has an NIHR RfPB grant as CI (2011).  He as supervised 13 successful doctoral theses and is currently supervising five. He has led a successful bid for a Nationally funded NF2 service (£7.5 million pa) that started in 2010 and is involved in the national complex NF1 service. He is overall cancer lead (3 themes) and Cancer Prevention Early detection theme lead on the successful all Manchester NIHR Biomedical research centre bid (2017-2022-£28.5million). He is lead clinician on the NICE familial breast cancer guideline group and until recently a trustee of Breast Cancer Now and the Neuro Foundation. He is on the editorial board of JNCI and is a board member of the Science Strategy Committee of Breast Cancer Now.





Professor Rachel M. Chalmers

Rachel Chalmers has been Director of the national Cryptosporidium Reference Unit (Public Health Wales Microbiology and Health Protection, Singleton Hospital, Swansea) since January 2000, providing the national reference service including laboratory testing, genotyping and investigation of outbreaks of cryptosporidiosis. Current research includes: improving methods for detecting and genotyping gastrointestinal protozoa in clinical, food, water and environmental samples; assessing public health risks from different sources; and investigating the long-term health effects of infection. She is an advisor to the WHO in food and waterborne diseases caused by protozoan parasites. 

Rachel has co-authored over 100 scientific papers and articles, and led the production of guidance for the investigation of cryptosporidium cases linked to swimming pools. In 2013 she was made Honorary Professor in Swansea Medical School.






Dr Alan Walker

I am a microbiologist by training with specific interests in the bacteria that inhabit the gastrointestinal tracts of mammalian hosts. After receiving a BSc (Hons) in Microbiology from the University of Aberdeen I studied for my PhD at the Rowett Institute and at the University of Dundee, specialising in gut microbiology and the role that intestinal bacteria play in the breakdown of dietary fibre. Following my PhD I spent eight years at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, before moving to my current post as a Senior Lecturer at the University of Aberdeen. My current research uses a combination of anaerobic culturing and DNA sequencing techniques to better characterise gut microbial communities, and shed light on the roles these microbes play both in health and in disease.




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Dr Lesley Hoyles

Institution: Nottingham Trent University

Title: Dr

Position Held: Associate Professor (Reader) in Microbiology

Dr Lesley Hoyles is a gut microbiologist, and a trained computational biologist. She works in the field of translational systems biology, using her unique skill set to investigate host–microbiome interactions and co-metabolism in humans, and animal and in vitro models.






Dr Dario Valenzano

Dario Riccardo Valenzano, Group Leader, Max Planck Institute for Biology of Ageing, Cologne, Germany





Professor Bertie Gottgens

Bertie Göttgens graduated from Tübingen University in 1992 with a degree in biochemistry.  He received his DPhil in biological sciences from the University of Oxford in 1994 and then proceeded to a post-doc position in the Department of Haematology, University of Cambridge, between 1994-2001.

Between 2002-2007 he was a Leukaemia Research Fund Lecturer in the Department of Haematology, Cambridge. He was then a University Lecturer, and subsequently a Reader in Haematology, between 2007-2011.

Since October 2011, Bertie has been Professor of Molecular Haematology, University of Cambridge. He is a fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and the incoming president of the International Society for Experimental Hematology.


Virginia Howick

Dr Virginia Howick

 Virginia obtained her PhD from Cornell University in 2015 where she studied the evolution and genetic architecture of insect immunity. She is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Wellcome Sanger Institute where she is working on vector-parasite interactions between the Anopheles mosquito and the malaria parasite using single-cell genomics.





Professor Wolf Reik

Wolf Reik obtained his MD from the University of Hamburg. He did his thesis work with Rudolf Jaenisch, and postdoctoral work with Azim Surani in Cambridge. He became a Fellow of the Lister Institute of Preventive Medicine at Cambridge and subsequently the Head of the Epigenetics Programme at the Babraham Institute in Cambridge and its Associate Director. He is honorary Professor of Epigenetics at the University of Cambridge and Associate Faculty at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, where he isa founding member of the recently established Centre for Single Cell Genomics. He is a Member of EMBO, Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, Fellow of the Royal Society, and Member of the Academia Europaea.

His research interests are in epigenetics, particularly in epigenetic reprogramming during mammalian development and its role in stem cell biology and inheritance. His current work addresses the mechanisms of genome-wide demethylation in the mammalian germline, links between reprogramming and pluripotency, the potential for transgenerational epigenetic inheritance, and the role of epigenetic mechanisms in experimental reprogramming. His lab also develops new epigenomics technologies especially in small numbers of cells.




Peter Vegh

Peter Vegh has earned his PhD in Genetics at Trinity College Dublin in 2015. He is currently a Research Associate at the Institute of Cellular Medicine, Newcastle University. His research focuses on the study of immune cells, using cytometry and next-generation sequencing.




Jordi Paps

Jordi Paps obtained his PhD on Genetics from the University of Barcelona (Spain). He has worked on the molecular phylogeny of the Animal Kingdom, and the origins of the animals from other eukaryotes. In the Department of Zoology (University of Oxford) he started his programme on comparative genomic analyses throughout all the major branches of the Metazoa to better understand their origins and evolution, linking the evolution of genomes and morphologies. Since September 2015 he is lecturer at the School of Biological Sciences (University of Essex).





Levi Yant

Levi Yant is an Associate Professor in the School of Life Sciences and Future Foods Beacon at the Univeristy of Nottingham, U.K. His work focuses on wild plant populations to learn how evolution finds solutions to significant environmental and physiological challenges. Among these are the internal struggle in the nucleus following whole genome duplication as well as adaptations to extreme ionomic conditions. Using population genomic approaches, this work identifies changes specific to adapted populations, revealing candidate genes and process mediating adaptation. A major goal of his work is define which evolutionary routes are constrained and predictable, and which meander along diverse paths. 





Chris Ponting

Chris P Ponting is Professor of Biomedical Informatics at the University of Edinburgh, and is an Associate Faculty member of the Wellcome Sanger Institute. He is a member of the EMBO, a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh.




Mirjana Efremova

Mirjana Efremova

Mirjana completed her PhD in the field of computational cancer immunology at the Medical University of Innsbruck. She is currently a Postdoctoral Fellow in Sarah Teichmann’s Lab at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, where she is applying single cell technologies and computational approaches to study the cellular diversity within different tissues. She is particularly interested in developing computational methods for inferring cell-cell communication networks.




Sponsor Speakers



Dr Kathryn Woodfine

Kathryn studied Molecular Genetics at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and was awarded a PhD for her work in using genomic microarrays to study replication timing and other epigenetic features by the University of Cambridge. She then continued her studies into epigenetics and imprinting at Kings College London and Cancer Research UK, Cambridge. Kathryn then used her expertise in NGS and microarrays to become a field application specialist, first for Roche diagnostics, and then for Agilent Technologies. She is now a Product Specialist and very happy to answer any of your questions on Agilent’s genomics portfolio.





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