The 6th Annual Translational Bioinformatics Conference
Jeju Island, Korea
The H.E. Carter Travel Award provided me the opportunity to attend the Translational Bioinformatics Conference (TBC). The conference was held Jeju island, Korea from October 15th to 17th in 2016. It highlighted the multi-disciplinary nature research field and provide an opportunity to bring together and exchange ideas between translational bioinformatics researchers. Translational bioinformatics is a rapidly emerging field of biomedical data sciences and informatics technologies that efficiently translate basic molecular, genetic, cellular, and clinical data into clinical products or health implications. This year, TBC invited a few leaders in this field to give keynote speeches and many scientists all over the world to give talks on their research.
Prior to the main conference, my colleagues and I gave an tutorial entitled "Computational methods for precision medicine and single subject studies with genomes and transcriptomes". This tutorial is a summary of the computational methods our group developed for advancing precision medicine. It was a great opportunity to disseminate our work, interact with the researchers, and to get feedbacks from the user's end. Also, I attended the tutorial offered by professor Helen Hyunjung Shin from Ajou University. Professor Shin's tutorial on "Machine Learning Methods for Translational Bioinformatics" introduced the applications of a series of modern machine learning algorithms in translational bioinformatics. This tutorial was closely related to my expertise and research interests. Their tutorial brought the latest application of the machine learning algorithms to my attention. Further, the conversations with them allow me to build connection with some very active scientists in this specific field.
One of the features of TBC is the great number of keynote speakers. Those keynote talks were high quality both in the scientific content and presentation. The topic of these keynote talks range from challenging open problems to the latest breakthroughs in this field. The most impressive talk to me was the one given by professor Olivier Lichtarge from Baylor College of Medicine. His research marries computation with experiments to study the molecular evolution of genes and pathways. The algorithms he introduced merge mathematical and evolutionary principles, with applications to precision therapy personalized to patients. Further, attending their presentations provided models for me to learn presentation skills, which is indispensable for my academic career.
Perhaps, the most beneficial experience was presenting our work to the scientists in the filed of translational bioinformatics around the world. My research focuses on developing statistical methods to advance personalized medicine. Although personalized medicine is still in early stages, this file of work is moving and improving at a rapid pace, and just got a boost from the Precision Medicine Initiative announced by White House. Bioinformatics methods development for precision medicine is a major topic in this conference, so I had a big audience. I believe presenting at TBC significantly helped disseminate our work. In addition, presenting at TBC was an indispensable opportunity to get feedback from the scientists coming from different background, including statisticians, computer scientists, engineers, epidemiologists, physicists, physicians and biologists. It was a special opportunity to communicate with scientist working in the same filed but coming from different background. After my talk, I met with many top scientists in the field of translational bioinformatics and was able to build up my professional network.
Overall, the experience at TBC greatly expanded my vision and knowledge of translational bioinformatics. And I was truly grateful that Hebert E. Cater Award fueled my professional growth.