In a typical calendar year, my conference season tends to be concentrated to the fall semester, culminating with the Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing in the first week of January just before or as the spring semester begins. Travel outside this schedule is generally limited to special meetings such as NIH study section, consortium meetings, etc. Not this leap year!
This year was the 2016 International Congress of Human Genetics (ICHG), a meeting held once every five years. The last ICHG was held in conjunction with the American Society of Human Genetics (ASHG) in Montreal, Canada in 2011 (Figure 1). This year’s version of ICHG was held in Kyoto, Japan. This ICHG hit our radar faster than a Québécois could utter “konichiwa.”
In attendance from the CWRU ICB and Department of Epidemiology of Biostatistics were Director and Chair Jonathan Haines, Assistant Professor Will Bush, recent graduate Jake Hall (PhD!), and post-doctoral fellow Nicole Restrepo. And, of course, me (Figure 2)! My husband joined us for the trip, where we also met up with collaborators Yuki Bradford (Penn State) and Jake McCauley (University of Miami).
Will, Jake, Nicole, and I all presented posters (Figure 3):
Nicole A. Restrepo, Sarah M. Laper, and Dana C. Crawford “Fine-mapping of CDKN2B-AS1 in African Americans with primary open-angle glaucoma from a biorepository linked to de-identified electronic medical records”
Dana C. Crawford, Kirsten E. Diggins, Nicole A. Restrepo, Eric Farber-Eger, Quinn S. Wells “Functional variants in a clinical setting: an example using APOC3 R19X and extreme triglyceride levels extract from electronic health records”
Jacob B. Hall, Jeremy R. Fondran, William S. Bush “Detecting and simulating heritability due to large-scale, cumulative epistatic effects”
Our head honcho Jonathan, of course, gave a talk:
Jonathan L. Haines, Rebecca J. Sardell, Joshua Hoffman, Jessica N. Cooke Bailey, Srinivas R. Sadda, William K. Scott, Dwight Stambolian, Margaret A. Pericak-Vance “Examining the genetic architecture of age-related macular degeneration (AMD) in the Amish”
The meeting provided multiple opportunities to catch up with collaborators (Figure 4) and industry partners (Figure 5). I myself spent most of the poster session catching up with Dr. Evadnie Rampersaud on her new job at St. Jude and Dr. Mike Epstein on a potential move. Perhaps a small quibble with the meeting venue was that the hotels were very far away, making chance interactions difficult (Figure 6).
Of course, we were most excited about the star of the conference: Kyoto. The meeting was held in early April at the height of cherry blossom season, and everything was artfully framed by the white blossoms (Figure 7). The food was fantastic and surprisingly (for me) varied (Figures 8 and 9). And, the sites were spectacular (Figures 10 and 11). The long travel was well worth it, and we’re now looking forward to the next ICHG scheduled for 2021 in London.