Past Conference 2017

The 2017 annual GSA conference was held with the New Zealand Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology on 2nd - 6th July at the University of Otago, Dunedin.

Please click here to visit the conference website

Please click here to download a copy of the conference program


Invited Speakers 

Associate Professor Jacqueline Batley - University of Western Australia

Prof Jacqueline Batley is an ARC Future Fellow at the University of Western Australia. She was awarded her PhD from the University of Bristol UK in 2001. She moved to Australia in 2002, as a senior research scientist at DPI-Victoria, then led a research group at the University of Queensland as an ARC QEII Research Fellow, from 2007- 2014. Jacqui has received several awards for her research including a University of Queensland Foundation Research Excellence Award, an ARC QEII Fellowship and an ARC Future Fellowship. Jacqueline has expertise in the field of plant molecular biology, genetics and genomics, gained from working in both industry and academia. Her areas of interest include genetic and genomic analysis and specifically, genome sequence analysis, pan genomics, SNP analysis and the role of structural variation for applications such as genetic diversity, genetic mapping, LD, GWAS, evolutionary, population and comparative genomic studies, as well as the molecular characterisation of agronomic traits. She is currently focussing on blackleg resistance in Brassicas.

Professor Hugo Bellen - Baylor College of Medicine

Hugo Bellen, D.V.M., Ph.D, is a Howard Hughes Investigator and Distinguished Professor at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston,Texas. His group has made major contributions to our understanding of nervous system development, mechanisms of neurodegeneration, and has developed numerous tools and reagents for the Drosophila research community worldwide. Professor Bellen uses fruit flies to examine the normal function of genes implicated in neurodegeneration. He is the Principle Investigator of the Model Organisms Screening Center (MOSC) for the Undiagnosed Diseases Network (UDN) of the National Institutes of Health in the USA. The goal of the MOSC is to determine which human variants associated with specific human disease are pathogenic using fruit flies and zebrafish. His lab has discovered more than five new human diseases in the past two years, and his lab members are elucidating the pathogenic mechanisms for Friedreich ataxia, Alzheimer Disease, Parkinson Disease, and several other neurodegenerative diseases. Professor Bellen’s research demonstrates the benefits to human health that can emerge from studies in model organisms. He not only uses flies in his research, he also loves fly fishing and is fond of Australia and New Zealand.

Professor Antony Dean - University of Minnesota

Tony obtained his PhD in 1987 from Washington University in St Louis studying the fitness effects of new amino acid replacements in the beta-galactosidase of E. coli under the supervision of Dan Hartl. He completed his postdoctoral training at the University of California at Berkeley working on regulatory phosphorylation of isocitrate dehydrogenase in the laboratory of Dan Koshland. In 1991 he became an assistant professor in the Department of Biochemistry at the Chicago Medical School where he continued pursued work on protein engineering and the metabolic basis of natural selection. He moved to the BioTechnology Institute at the University of Minnesota in 1999 where he continues his interests in protein structure, function and evolution.

Professor Tom Gilbert - University of Copenhagen

Tom has a BA in Biological Sciences from the University of Oxford, after which he did his D.Phil under Alan Cooper’s supervision. During this time he was first exposed to not only the power, but also limitations, of using genetic data in ecological, evolutionary, anthropological and archaeological questions, the latter in particular shaping his later research. He then spent two years at the University of Arizona with Mike Worobey, during which he helped apply his aDNA expertise to tackling questions relating to the origin of the HIV-1 epidemic. He subsequently moved to the University of Copenhagen, where he is currently Professor of Palaeogenomics and Head of the Natural History Museum’s research department for Evolutionary Genomics. Today his groups’s research remains broad, but in general synthesises modern and ancient genomic-scale datasets, across topics spanning both basic and applied questions.

Dr Rebecca Johnson - Australian Museum Research Institute

Dr Rebecca Johnson, BSc(Hons), PhD, is Director of the Australian Museum Research Institute, a Wildlife Forensic Scientist, a conservation geneticist and co-chief investigator of the Koala Genome Consortium. As Director of the Australian Museum Research Institute she leads the 100+ staff working in science and education work of the Australian Museum. She has an honours degree from the University of Sydney and PhD from La Trobe University Melbourne in the field of molecular evolutionary genetics and has worked as a molecular geneticist, in Australia and the USA before joining the museum in 2003. Since then she has established the Museum as one of the global leaders in the field of wildlife forensics and conservation genomics through the ISO17025 accreditation of the Australian Centre for Wildlife Genomics facilities (one of the only fully accredited wildlife forensics laboratories in the Australasian region).

Assistant Professor Elinor Karlsson - University of Massachusetts and The Broad Institute

Elinor Karlsson is an assistant professor in bioinformatics and integrative biology at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. She is also the director of the Vertebrate Genomics Group at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. Her research focuses on using our own evolutionary history to understand how the genome works, and how that knowledge can lead to advances in healthcare. She has a special interest in diseases shared between humans and dogs. She recently launched the citizen science-driven Darwin’s Dogs project, which invites all dog owners to participate directly in research exploring the genetic basis of dog behavior, as well as diseases such as OCD and cancer. Her current projects also include the 200 Mammals Genome Project, an international effort to compare hundreds of different mammalian genomes and identify critically important segments of DNA, and the evolution of resistance to ancient infectious diseases, like cholera, in people. Elinor received her B.A. in biochemistry, and a Bachelor of Fine Arts, from Rice University, and her Ph.D. in bioinformatics from Boston University. She was a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University before starting her own research group in 2014.

Assistant Professor Daniel MacArthur - Harvard Medical School and The Broad Institute

Daniel MacArthur, PhD, is an Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital and the Co-Director of Medical and Population Genetics and the Center for Mendelian Genomics at the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT. His research focuses on the use of genomic approaches to uncover the functional impact of human genetic variation, and especially its role in causing severe Mendelian diseases. He currently coordinates the Genome Aggregation Database (gnomAD), which has aggregated and jointly processed exome and genome sequence data from over 140,000 individuals, made publicly available through the widely-used ExAC and gnomAD browsers. His group also applies a variety of genomic technologies, including exome, whole-genome, and transcriptome sequencing, to improve the diagnosis of patients with rare disease. To date his lab has sequenced over 3,000 samples and provided genetic diagnoses for over 500 families suffering from these diseases. He now co-directs the newly created Center for Mendelian Genomics at the Broad Institute, established with a grant from NHGRI, which will apply genomic technologies to the diagnosis of over 7,000 rare disease families over the next four years. MacArthur received his BMedSc and PhD from the University of Sydney, Australia, and completed postdoctoral training at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, UK before beginning his current position in 2012.