We are delighted to welcome our four keynote speakers, who are global leaders in their respective fields - here we announce our first two, Professor Wendy Bickmore and Professor Jane Carlton.

Professor Wendy Bickmore

University of Edinburgh

Despite its immense length, the linear sequence map of the human genome is an incomplete description of our genetic information. This is because information on genome function and gene regulation is also encoded in the way that the DNA sequence is folded up with proteins within chromosomes and within the nucleus. Our work tries to understand the three-dimensional folding of the genome, and how this controls how our genome functions in normal development and how this may be perturbed in disease.

We take a multidisciplinary approach, using cytological, genetic, genomic and biochemical methods, as well as animal models, to understand genome spatial organisation and how it contributes to gene regulation. A prominent feature of our work is the use of visual assays to investigate how the genome is folded up. To do this we combine fluorescence in situ hybridisation (FISH) and digital microscopy with the use of automated image analysis software.

We examine the spatial organisation of human and mouse chromosomes and genes in the nucleus and how this organisation is changed, for example, during development and in certain genetic diseases. We use microscopy to follow the folding path of specific gene loci as they are activated or switched off, and to identify the proteins that bring about this folding. We also use the tools of synthetic biology to artificially control the expression or silencing of genes, to test our hypotheses.

Professor Jane Carlton

NYU Center for Genomics and Systems Biology

Jane Carlton is the Director of Genomic Sequencing at the Center for Genomics and Systems Biology and Silver Professor of Biology and Genomics at New York University. After obtaining a doctorate in Genetics from the University of Edinburgh in 1995, she spent the past 22 years at several scientific institutions in the United States, including the sequencing center TIGR founded by J. Craig Venter. She is passionate about genomics and the power that this field has to revolutionize biomedicine. Her research on species of malaria and the common sexually transmitted pathogen Trichomonas vaginalis, uses comparative genomics (population genetics, evolutionary biology, and bioinformatics, applied across genomes) to interrogate the biology of parasites as a means to uncover better methods for their diagnosis, treatment, and control. For the past 14 years, she has worked with researchers in India as Program Director of an International Center of Excellence for Malaria Research funded by the US National Institutes of Health. A project, Mapping the New York City Microbiome, which uses environmental sequencing to characterize parasites circulating through New York on dollar bills, ATM buttons, in sewage, in the subway, and in pests and pets, involved multiple citizen science projects and attracted coverage in major media (for example, The New York Times). She has published more than 120 articles, reviews, and book chapters, including front cover articles for Nature, Nature Genetics and Science, and her research has been profiled by several media organizations including CNN, BBC, Reuters, The Economist, and USA Today. In 2010 she was awarded the Stoll-Stunkard Award from the American Society for Parasitologists; in 2012 she was elected a Fellow of American Association for the Advancement of Science; and in 2018 she was honored with a Julius Silver, Roslyn S. Silver, and Enid Silver Winslow endowed chair from New York University

Dr Sarah Teichmann, FMedSci

Wellcome Sanger Institute

Sarah is Head of Cellular Genetics at the Wellcome Sanger Institute and has research interests in the development and application of methods to explore the genome, epigenome and transcriptome of single cells in order to better understand normal development and disease processes. Sarah is interested in global principles of protein interactions and gene expression. In particular, her research now focuses on genomics, immunity and single cell approaches. Sarah did her PhD at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK and was a Beit Memorial Fellow at University College London. She started a group at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in 2001. In 2013, she moved to the Wellcome Genome Campus in Hinxton, Cambridge, where her group was joint between the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute and the Wellcome Sanger Institute. Sarah is an EMBO member and fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences, and her work has been recognized by a number of prizes, including the Lister Prize, Biochemical Society Colworth Medal, Royal Society Crick Lecture and EMBO Gold Medal.

Dr Kirsten Bos

Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History

Kirsten is a physical anthropologist specialising in ancient DNA and infectious disease.

Techniques in ancient DNA retrieval now allow us to sequence enough DNA from preserved archaeological tissues so that we can computationally reconstruct ancient pathogen genomes. From this we can identify diseases from hundreds of years ago and determine their genetic relationships to modern forms. So far Kirsten has used these techniques to contribute to work on the Black Death and other Yersinia pestis infections, leprosy, cholera, tuberculosis, and most recently paratyphoid fever.

Kirsten is currently the Research Group Leader for Molecular Palaeopathology at the Max Planck Institute for the Science of Human History in Jena, Germany. Her team tackles historical questions relating to the changing landscape of infectious disease over time, host-pathogen coevolution, and the biological consequences of European and New World contact.

After receiving her PhD from McMaster University in 2012, she did two years of research as a SSHRC-funded postdoctoral fellow in the department of Archaeological Sciences at the University of Tuebingen. Following this, She did an additional research year in this department funded by a grant from the European Research Council (ERC).