Keynote Speakers

2017

Dr. Tong Yi-Gang

Department of molecular microbiology
Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology
China

Presentation Title: Application of NGS and bioinformatics in response of infectious disease outbreaks
Presentation Time: 2017-01-16 09:00 - 10:00 AM

Dr. Tong Yi-Gang is a professor of microbiology at Beijing Institute of Microbiology and Epidemiology. He got his bachelor’s degree at Fudan University in 1988, and PhD at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in 2000. He obtained postdoc training at University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada, during 2003-2005. In 2015 he acted as the chief scientist of the third batch of Chinese medical team for Ebola response deployed in Sierra Leone. His major research interests include high-throughput sequencing of microbes, phage therapy of pan-antibiotics resistant bacterial infections. He has published more than 100 papers in international journals including Nature, PNAS, JV, EID.
Abstract: With the growing ability of human being to transform nature, distance between humans and wild animals is getting closer, and the risk of human facing emerging infectious diseases is also increasing. With the frequent and fast international traveling, and lack of background immunity to pathogens, emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases can easily cause rapid global spreading. Most major epidemics that occurred in recent years were caused by cross- species transmission of animal viruses. SARS, which originated in China in 2003, had a significant impact on the global economy, especially China's economy, and people's health. It also gave the Chinese government and China’s experts in infectious disease prevention and control a good lesson. After ten years of efforts, China has established a relatively competent system for infectious disease prevention and control, has trained numerous highly capable professional and technical personnel. Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreak in West Africa in 2014 caused nearly 30 thousand people infected and more than 10 thousand people died. At the moment of rapid development of the epidemic, China sent a number of medical teams to West Africa to help fight the Ebola epidemic, and played an important role in promoting outbreak response. Prior to this, the literature reported that the 2014 West African Ebola virus (EBOV) obtained a much higher mutation rate compared to the previous Ebola virus. This conclusion worried the experts in the outbreak response worldwide, since it imply that rapid mutation could resulted in even more virulent virus or make the virus disseminate more easily. Chinese scientists deployed in Sierra Leone paid a lot of efforts to sequence positive EVD samples to obtain complete genome sequences of the viruses. Based on a large number (175) of EBOV sequences, the evolutionary variation, genetic diversity, the mutation rate of the virus in West Africa was analyzed. The results demonstrated that the mutation rate of virus during 2014 had not been significantly accelerated. This conclusion has eliminated the worries of the global scientist. At the same time, our study also showed that, after the introduction of the virus in 2014 in Sierra Leone, the genetic diversity of the virus continued to increase rapidly until October 2014, with the spread of the virus concentrated in several major settlements. By implementing strict disease control measures (especially mandatory safety burial), spreading of the disease significantly decreased, indicating that the control measures played a fundamental role. In addition, our study also showed for the first time that Ebola virus has a continuous C -> T mutations, which is likely to be resulted from RNA editing function of the host’s natural immune system, and likely enhanced the adaptability of the virus.

2017

Prof. Jun Yu

CAS Key Laboratory of Science and Information
Beijing Institute of Genomics
Chinese Academy of Sciences
Beijing, China

Presentation Title: From Genotype to Phenotype: A Five-track Species-focused Biology Converges the Complexity of Life
Presentation Time: 2017-01-16 14:30 - 15:30 PM

Prof. Jun Yu was born in Liaoning, China, 1956. He obtained his B.S. degree of biochemistry from Jilin University in 1983. In the same year, he was accepted by CUSBEA (China-US Biology Examination and Application) Program and obtained his Ph.D. degree in Biomedical Sciences from the Sackler Institute at New York University School of Medicine in 1990. He studied urothelial differentiation and characterized a group of urothelium-specific proteins: uroplakins. He was awarded American Foundation for Urological Diseases Ph.D. Research Scholar and stayed at NYU as research assistant professor. In 1993, Yu joined the University of Washington Genome Center, leading a physical mapping effort for the early stage of the Human Genome Project (HGP). Jun Yu returned to China in 1998 and served as Associate Director of the Human Genome Center at the Institute of Genetics, Chinese Academy of Sciences. He brought a part of the HGP effort to China, which initiated genomics in China and also led to the birth of a new institution – the Beijing Institute of Genomics (BGI) – and to his second associate directorship (1999–2008). He also served the third associate directorship for the Beijing Institute of Genomics (BIG) for two consecutive terms (2003–2012). Yu has published over 300 peer-reviewed scientific papers in the fields of cell biology, genomics, and bioinformatics and has supervised over 100 Ph.D. students. For his scientific work, Yu has received numerous awards and prizes; some examples are Award for Outstanding Science and Technology Achievements (2003) from the Chinese Academy of Sciences, “Qiushi” Annual Award for Scientific Achievement (2002) from QiuShi Science and Technology Foundation (Hong Kong), Outstanding Investigator of the 100-Telant Plan from Chinese Academy of Sciences (2002), and Outstanding Young Investigator (Class B) from the Natural Science Foundation of P. R. China (1999). TWAS Award for Agricultural Sciences (2012).
Abstract: Associating genotype to phenotype at molecular level has been increasingly challenging. In “the Informational (Genetic) World” all relationships are described in DNA sequence and its terms for genotypes so that the solution is by definition partial. It is now overwhelmingly replaced by “the Dynamic World” and to solve “the equations of life” that assume two unknowns – genetics and epigenetics – is of urgency. In such a real biological world, our first effort concerns convergences that focuses on the unification of concepts and terms from four clusters of biological disciplines, including (1) medicine (such as physiology and anatomy), (2) molecular biology (such as cell biology and biochemistry), (3) genetics (such as population genetics and molecular evolution), and (4) genomics (such as systems biology and bioinformatics). The next effort is to focus on further stratification of biological elements and essentials in limited layers that may include information, operation, homeostasis, compartmentalization, and plasticity, where molecular mechanisms and cellular processes are to be described in mechanochemical and spatiotemporal parameters.
Placed at the center stage of life’s key operations is RNA, passing on information from DNA to protein (the Central Dogma) and creating cellular processes that make both protein and DNA (the RNA World) for cellular life forms. This second reconciliation of theoretical schools, together with the first one – the Darwinian and Lamarckian thoughts – will surely reunify the biological world with well-defined dynamic components. The study of RNAs or ribogenomes has three major components: transcriptomes (all transcripts), epitranscriptomes (nucleobase with covalent modifications and their site occupancy in all transcripts), and editomes (all edited transcripts). The study of epigenomics concerns only chromosomes and their operational roles. We are able to envision that in the next decades or so large multi- national projects on human ribogenomes and epigenomes at single cell levels are to be lunched toward the goals of precision medicine – targeting diseases rather than basic experimental materials. A prerequisite key technology is direct RNA sequencing. The current hope is to use solid-state nanopores as a platform coupling with graphene and other single-molecule detection tools.