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29th Annual International Mammalian Genome Conference: Piero Carninci and Teresa Gunn

As part of our mission to encourage engagement within the genetics community, PLOS Genetics sponsors conferences and meetings in the fields of genetics. In order to raise awareness about these conferences, and the researchers who attend them, we are featuring a number of these conferences on Biologue, with posts written by the organizers or PLOS Genetics editors who are involved.

This blog is written by Piero Carninci and Teresa Gunn.

Piero Carninci is director of the Division of Genomic Technologies at RIKEN, Japan and local organizer of IMGC2015. Teresa Gunn is an Associate Professor at the McLaughlin Research Institute in Montana, USA and current President of the IMGS.

Competing Interests: The authors of this blog are involved in the organization of the conference discussed in this blog.

Image Credit: IMGC2015
Image Credit: IMGC2015

The 29th Annual International Mammalian Genome Conference (IMGC) of the International Mammalian Genome Society (IMGS) will be held in Yokohama, Japan, on November 8-12, 2015. The IMGS exists primarily to foster and stimulate research in mammalian genetics.

Mouse genetic models have a long history of providing significant insights into human development and disease, and the roles of other mammalian organisms are expanding as their genomes are sequenced and new technologies emerge that facilitate genomic manipulations in any species. IMGC2015 will provide a stimulating venue for scientists to interact and share their recent discoveries.

IMGC History

The local organizer of IMGC2015 is Dr. Piero Carninci, Director of the Division of Genomic Technologies at RIKEN Center for Life Science Technologies. In 1995, Piero joined the laboratory of Dr. Yoshihide Hayashizaki at RIKEN as a postdoctoral fellow to work on a new RIKEN genome project- ‘The Mouse cDNA Encyclopedia’- which focused on the identification of the expressed part of the genome. It was also in 1995 that Dr. Verne Chapman, a founding member of the IMGS, passed away while visiting RIKEN in Tsukuba. Piero vividly remembers the last stimulating discussions with Verne: why C57BL/6 should be the strain chosen to make the catalogue of cDNA, how to manage tissue specific expression, the importance of connecting genomics data and resources to the genetic map, and many other fundamental deliberations. Verne’s colleagues continued with the project discussed in that last meeting, and what followed is part of his legacy. The Verne Chapman Memorial Lecture will be given by Dr. John Mattick, who will provide important and provocative insights into the inner workings of the genome. Additional distinguished keynote speakers, Drs. Masayo Takahashi and Hideyuki Okano, will talk about iPS (induced Pluripotent Stem Cells) and stem cells and their applications.

IMGC today

Twenty years later, we are fully immersed in the genomic era and have reached targets that were beyond our wildest imagination in 1995. The genomes of many species and strains are now available. Many human genomes have been sequenced and there have even been steps towards sequencing the genome of entire countries. The amount of data is overwhelming and presents opportunities to analyze these large and rich data sets, which will lead to insights to human health and disease and the development of better therapies. We are accumulating huge amounts of information, yet in a sense we are merely extending the borders of our ignorance. There are huge challenges ahead to truly understand gene function and regulation in tissues and individual cells. There are many unexpected details involved in gene regulation, including new players beyond protein coding genes. The epigenome, for example, uses many protein modifications, non-coding RNAs, and sophisticated three-dimensional interactions to regulate life in individual cells and tissues. Understanding how this complex system works is beyond the reach of human genome sequencing alone. One goal of IMGC2015 is to demonstrate that understanding the relationship between human, mouse, and other models is fundamental to progressing basic science towards long awaited applications to human health. These must go hand-in-hand with different scientific communities working together toward a common goal.

Young Scientists

The IMGS is committed to fostering the career development of young scientists, and this year’s meeting continues the traditions of a Trainee Symposium preceding the main conference, a Mentor Luncheon that allows trainees to interact with established scientists, and the opportunity to vie for presentation awards. All IMGC2015 participants are invited to attend lunchtime seminars by Pacific Biosciences and TransSINE Technologies and optional workshops on Bioinformatics, Gene Enrichment Analysis, FANTOM5, Systems Genetics and Scientific Literature Curation. The main conference will feature talks and posters on Human Disease Models & Immunology; Neuroscience, Development & Stem Cells; Genomics & Computational Analysis; Epigenomics & Noncoding RNAs; Advances in Genome Editing; and Large-Scale Resources.

IMGC2015 IN Yokohama, Japan

Image Credit: IMGC 2015 WEBSITE

A major goal of scientists in Japan and at RIKEN is to internationalize science. IMGC2015 is an important step toward accomplishing this aim. Yokohama was chosen as the IMGC2015 venue with the intent of showcasing its beauty, history, and international nature. The Port of Yokohama was opened to foreign trade more than 150 years ago and, since then, the City of Yokohama has become the base for foreign trade in Japan.  The IMGC2015 venue is within walking distance to the largest Chinatown in Japan and a couple of metro stations away from the beautiful Motomachi area where many foreigners from America and Europe resided in the Meiji era. With attendees representing at least 28 different countries, IMGC2015 will catalyze global interactions and collaborations across various areas of genetics and biology, and other scientific fields.

For more information, visit the conference website or the IMGS Facebook page.

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