Dr. Laura van't Veer, presenter at Nature conference, with Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, March, 2014.
Dr. Laura van’t Veer, presenter at Nature conference, with Netherlands Prime Minister Mark Rutte, March, 2014. (Photo: Agendia)

Along with keynote speakers, partnering and networking opportunities, exhibitors, and panel discussions, this year’s BIO International Convention will also play host to a co-located conference on genomic technologies and biomaterials presented by Nature, Nature Biotechnology, and the Guangzhou Institutes of Biomedicine and Health.

The conference, Genomic Technologies and Biomaterials for Understanding Disease, takes place on June 23 and 24, with sessions to be held on-location at the San Diego Convention Center.

It is one of two co-located events at BIO this year.  The other is the International BioGENEius Challenge, a research contest for high school science students organized by the Biotechnology Institute.  Finalists will showcase their research in the Sails Pavilion at the San Diego Convention Center on June 24, with winners to be announced at the keynote luncheon that day.


The Nature Conference

In the last ten years, researchers have made great strides in the development of genomic technologies and their use in the detection and understanding of complex biological processes and the molecular basis of disease.  These advances have led to new diagnostic and treatment methods for a variety of conditions including cancer, infectious diseases, immune dysfunction and neurodegenerative disorders.

Conference speakers will explore and offer insights into advances in technologies such as sequencing, cell reprogramming, and biomaterials and their application in the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases.

Set to keynote are two major figures in scientific research today:  Eric Topol and Peter A. Jones.  The conference will also feature presentations by a group of cutting-edge researchers who will cover topics including genomic medicine, stem cell biology and reprogramming, and single-cell analysis.


Dr. Eric Topol

Eric Topol, a cardiologist, geneticist and mobile healthcare expert, is currently the chief academic officer at Scripps Health and directs their Translational Science Institute.  He was also recently appointed to the position of chief medical advisor at AT&T.  You can read more about his appointment on our blog by clicking here.

Topol is the author of numerous books; his latest, The Creative Destruction of Medicine, explores the new technologies and medical devices powering the move into personalized medicine.

Dr. Topol’s keynote is titled Individualized Medicine: from Prewomb to Tomb, and will take place on Monday, June 23 at 9:45 AM.


Peter A. Jones

Dr. Peter A. Jones.
Dr. Peter A. Jones.

A native of South Africa, Dr. Peter A. Jones was recently named chief scientific officer of the Van Andel Institute in Michigan.  Jones is a pioneer researcher in the field of epigenetics—the study of changes in gene activity that are not related to changes in the actual DNA sequence.

According to the Van Andel Institute’s website:  “Dr. Jones’ pioneering research uncovered basic mechanisms of DNA methylation and its role in cancer, as well as uncovering critical pathways in the development of bladder cancer.” (click here)

Dr. Jones’ keynote, The Cancer Epigenome, will take place on Tuesday, June 24 at 8:30 AM.


Conference Speakers

The conference will also feature presentations by leading scientists, among them standouts such as Dr. Laura van’t Veer and Liangfang Zhang.

Dr. van’t Veer, director of applied genomics of the Cancer Center at the University of California, San Francisco, was awarded a 2014 European Union Prize for Women Innovators this March for her invention, the MammaPrint breast cancer test.

The test determines how aggressive a breast cancer tumor is through gene sequencing, and is highly effective at predicting whether a patient is likely to experience a recurrence of their cancer.   Dr. van’t Veer’s presentation is titled Companion Therapeutics, and is scheduled for Monday, June 23 at 4:30 PM.

Liangfang Zhang is a professor of nanoengineering at the University of California, San Diego.  Zhang and his team developed a vaccine for the MRSA infection using nanosponge technology; a paper on the research and the vaccine’s effectiveness in mice was published in the journal Nature Nanotechnology in December of last year.

MRSA, or methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, is deadly, and has developed an extremely strong resistance to antibiotics; it is known as a “superbug” and is prevalent in hospitals.  Zhang’s goal is to take the new vaccine into clinical trials.

His presentation is scheduled for 10:30 AM on Tuesday, June 24.

For more information on BIO 2014, please click here.

For more information on the Nature conference Genomic Technologies and Biomaterials for Understanding Disease please click here.