This year’s American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) was held—where else?—in Vancouver, Canada! Our northern neighbors invited human geneticists far and wide for five days of presentations, networking, and some scientific fun.
Of course, I hardly ever pass up the opportunity to attend this meeting. As I have written before, ASHG is a great place to catch up with friends from other institutions. And, it’s also a good meeting for everyone to practice his or her poster making and presentation skills. This year, my lab was involved with two poster presentations. CWRU Instructor and KL2 scholar Dr. Jessica Cooke Bailey presented our MetroHealth/Institute for Computational Biology Pilot study (MIPs) preliminary data on surveying Clevelanders about biobanking and return of results (Figure 1). And, PhD candidate Brittany Hollister presented her updated work on extracting socioeconomic status from electronic health records for gene-environment studies (Figure 2).
The poster sessions, as always, are lively and ripe with opportunity to run into your favorite geneticist and geneticist-in-training (Figure 3). This year, I caught up with former Crawford alum Dr. Matt Oetjens, a post-doctoral fellow in Jeff Kidd’s lab at the University of Michigan (Figure 4). I tried to chat with another former Crawford alum Dr. Nicole Restrepo, but she was busy presenting her work on age-related macular degeneration in an Ohio Amish population (Figure 5). I caught a fleeting glimpse of Dr. Minoli Perera as she waved to me before dashing off to another aisle of posters, and I ran into a trio of heavy hitters enjoying the ASHG poster session ice cream bars (Figure 6). And, what’s ASHG without running into Steve Buyske (rhymes with “nice key”) of Rutgers to talk about restaurants and television shows? Or Jody McLean from CDC’s National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys to talk about her exotic travels for the year? Hey, what’s the Vandy crew up to these days? I even managed to squeeze in a Million Veteran Program meeting organized by Dr. Beth Hauser from Duke University. All in all, it was great seeing so many colleagues, even for a brief moment (I’m looking at you, Tricia Thornton-Wells!).
Of course, the poster session is not the only place where it’s at at ASHG. The sessions are also a great place to see your favorite colleagues or trainees give talks on hot topics in human genetics. We were very proud that alum Dr. Josh Hoffman, now a post-doctoral fellow in John Witte’s lab at UCSF, was a finalist for the ASHG/Charles J. Epstein Trainee Awards for Excellence in Human Genetics Research (Figure 7). Also, alum and current CWRU post-doctoral fellow Nuri Kodaman earned a platform presentation for his abstract titled “Why real biological interactions are usually not detectable in genetic association analyses” (Figure 8). Of course, colleague Dr. Marylyn Ritchie absolutely killed it with her talk “The public sharing of genomic data the DiscoverEHR Collaboration” (Figure 9). When we were not dashing from session to session, we savored a few minutes for group pictures in various convention settings (Figures 10-12).
A description of ASHG would not be complete without mention of the outside activities. Group dinners and industry-sponsored parties are very popular with this crowd, to say the least. I have to admit that I was not organized this year, so a Crawford lab dinner was not on my radar. It wasn’t on my radar, that is, until Matt Oetjens put it there with a simple “Hey, when’s the Crawford lab dinner?” Oh, yeah, I suppose I should get on that!
This year’s lab dinner was a semi-impromptu nosh at Catch 122 Cafe Bistro. Even with little notice, we had a great turnout of friends of the Crawford lab including current trainees Brittany Hollister and Carissa (Iverson) Jones, alums Drs. Janina Jeff and Matt Oetjens (along with wife Katie Fischer!), and CWRU colleagues Drs. Farren Briggs and Jessica Cooke Bailey (Figures 13 and 14). Alum Dr. Nicole Restrepo and post-doctoral fellow Mariusz Butkiewicz were doubled-booked that night and couldn’t make it. Coincidentally, they were having dinner next door at Wildebeest with former post-doctoral fellow Dr. Brian Yaspan, now of Genetech. And, speaking of coincidence, we spied Dr. Mike Eberle of Illumina and his crew at Catch 122 while we were there (Figure 15). Small world!
New to the Crawford lab dining experience was trainee Jessica Brown (Figure 16). This was her first ASHG, and she didn’t seem to have her own lab posse to hang with to show her the ropes. Luckily, Brittany and Carissa adopted her and introduced her to the culture of our yearly gathering. ASHG is fun if you know a lot of people, but it can be quite lonely if you are new. I hope Jessica had a good experience and feels encouraged to attend this and other yearly meetings throughout her training and career in human genetics.
There were so many parties this year, I couldn’t keep up. In fact, I either missed most of them or showed up really late. Case in point: I missed the Illumina party because I was double-booked for a dinner at Pidgin with my former Seattle peeps (Figure 17). It was totally worth it, although I did have a tinge of FOMO when I saw the Illumina party pics (Figures 18 and 19). Oh well, maybe next year. I managed to make late entrances to the ICB party and the Geisinger party (Figure 20). I missed the CWRU departmental party. What can I say? There are only so many party hours in the day…
Vancouver all in all was a beautiful host city. Many of us were fortunate to find some time to take in the sites the city has to offer (Figures 21 and 22). The meeting’s end is always bittersweet. It’s a long meeting, so most of us are ready to go home. But, it’s sad to say good-bye to friends you wanted to spend more time with but couldn’t (Figure 23). I suppose there’s always next year. Orlando 2017, anyone?
I love you, Orlando
Sea World and Disney
and Putt-Putt Golfing”