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Panel 3: Discussion

Technology and Genomic Integrity

October 31, 2012
07 minutes
Vanessa Hayes, Bing Ren, Roger Lasken, Kun Zhang


Vanessa Hayes is professor of genomic medicine at the J. Craig Venter Institute in San Diego. Her research interest is in defining the extent of human genome diversity and how this diversity impacts human health and disease has taken her around the world. Originating in South Africa, completing her Ph.D. at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands and heading a Cancer Genetics research team in Australia, she moved to the U.S.A. in 2010 to work with leaders in next generation sequencing and informatics at the J. Craig Venter Institute. She has a particular interest in using whole genome variation to understand human evolution and population dynamics, including the earliest diverged modern human lineages, ethnic diversity associated with prostate cancer, as well as the impact of genomic integrity in new treatment strategies for human disease.

Bing Ren is currently a member of the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research (LICR) and professor of Cellular and Molecular Medicine at the UC San Diego School of Medicine. He leads the San Diego Epigenome Center, one of four NIH-sponsored Reference Epigenome Mapping Centers as part of the Roadmap Epigenomics project. Dr. Ren has used genomic approaches to investigate the gene regulatory networks and epigenetic mechanisms in eukaryotic cells. Research accomplishments from the laboratory include development of high throughput method for mapping transcription factor binding sites in the human genome, comprehensive mapping of cis regulatory elements in the mammalian genome, and characterization of the epigenomic landscapes in pluripotent and lineage-committed human cells. Dr. Ren obtained his Ph.D. in biochemistry from Harvard University in 1998, and from 1998 to 2001, he trained as a postdoctoral fellow at Whitehead Institute.

Roger Lasken has been a professor at the J. Craig Venter Institute since 2006. He and his group have investigated MDA reaction mechanisms and introduced new single cell genomic applications. His current research is on single cell genomics and gene expression in stem and cancer cells. Other work includes single cell genomic sequencing of uncultured bacteria for the Human Microbiome Project. Dr. Lasken studied DNA replication in graduate work with Myron F. Goodman, University of Southern California, and postdoctoral work with Arthur Kornberg, Stanford University, before joining the faculty at the Cornell University Medical College. He then pursued an interest in biotechnology at Life Technologies, Inc. where he worked on DNA amplification products. As director of genomics at Molecular Staging, Inc. his group introduced whole genome amplification by MDA (sold as the Repli-g kit, Qiagen, and TempliPhi and GenomiPhi kits, GE Healthcare). Dr. Lasken’s group was the first to sequence DNA from a single cell.

Kun Zhang joined the UC San Diego Department of Bioengineering in 2007 and is currently associate professor of bioengineering. His current group is developing genome technologies based on single- molecule sequencing, single-cell manipulation/amplification, and chip-based synthesis and manipulation of complex DNA libraries. They are applying these novel technologies to stem cell research and personalized medicine. After obtaining his Ph.D. in human and molecular genetics from the University of Texas at Houston/MD Anderson Cancer Center, he received his post-doctoral training with George Church at Harvard Medical School.