Nav: Home

Molecular big data, a new weapon for medicine

August 28, 2019

From 9 to 11 September, the [BC]2 Basel Computational Biology Conference, organized by the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, will bring together international and Swiss-based scientists working in this field, in one of the key bioinformatics events in Europe: a prime opportunity to hear from leading experts, from precision oncology to infectious diseases.

Why is computational biology key? Technological advances have brought us to the genomic era at full speed, with human sequence data flowing into global repositories at an exponential rate. When combined with the growing wealth of digital health records and clinical trials, these terabytes of data promise invaluable insights into the biological mechanisms of human health, aging and disease. However, without state-of-the-art computational methods, resources and solutions - including machine learning approaches - it is virtually impossible to extract knowledge from them, let alone to derive clinical applications. The [BC]2 Basel Computational Biology Conference precisely aims to foster the transfer of such know-how among today's scientists.

Swiss expertise, international reach. Switzerland has a history of excellence in curation and analysis of biological data thanks to the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics, created 20 years ago. Every two years, the Institute organizes [BC]2, which this year aims to help filling the gap between Big Data and clinical applications, through a series of workshops and plenary sessions detailing the current status of knowledge. Attracting prestigious keynote speakers and over 300 attendees from around the globe, the conference is deeply rooted in Switzerland, with a scientific committee exclusively composed of Group Leaders of the SIB, including co-chairs Niko Beerenwinkel (ETH Zurich) and Erik van Nimwegen (University of Basel). "The application of Big Data in Medicine holds enormous promise, but by and large these great expectations have yet to be fulfilled. It's a real privilege to be able to gather the world's experts in Switzerland to survey where we stand, and discuss what the key challenges are to realizing this promise", says van Nimwegen.

From precision oncology to infectious diseases - what experts have to say. Three themes of broad significance emerge from the conference's multiple tracks and sessions:
    1) From single-cell data to precision oncology: Genome-wide data from single cells have become essential in cancer research and precision oncology. Identifying and interpreting the consequences of mutations in the DNA of individual cells of a tumour is key to classifying the tumour's stage, and to identify appropriate therapies. "Thanks to new techniques which allow us to explore tumours at the level of single cells, we are changing our way to approach cancer: a tumour is now seen as a diverse ecosystem in the context of the surrounding tissue, which opens the door to much more finely targeted therapy", says SIB Group Leader Manfred Claassen (ETH Zurich), co-chair of the single-cell data session;

    2) From pathogen sequencing to fighting infectious diseases: Many diseases are caused by rapidly mutating and increasingly drug-resistant microorganisms. Hence characterizing pathogens at the molecular and genomic level is essential for designing drugs and vaccines as well as for the monitoring of disease outbreaks. "Tools such as NextStrain already play an important role for analysing and tracking outbreaks of pathogens such as Ebola or Zika virus in real-time. Public health interventions will increasingly rely on such bioinformatics tools to allocate their resources in the future", says SIB Group Leader Richard Neher (University of Basel), co-chair of the evolutionary medicine session;

    3) Biological big data analysis and methods: Ultimately, Big Data obtained from basic research comes from many different sources and in many formats (e.g. sequence, gene expression, and biochemical data). Extracting useful information from such multi-varied data requires precisely tailored tools and methods, including special-purpose machine learning algorithms. "In precision medicine, machine learning techniques are becoming essential - both to integrate the large variety of data types used to characterize each patient, as well as to identify, in these complex high-dimensional data, hidden patterns which may then be used as biomarkers that predict susceptibility to a disease", says SIB Group Leader Julia Vogt (ETH Zurich), co-chair of the multi-level data integration session.
In 2019, [BC]2 will be an integral part of BASEL LIFE, Europe's leading congress in the Life Sciences, taking place at the Congress Center in Basel. The event will thus foster scientific exchanges between computational and experimental disciplines, and between academia and the industry.

Distinguishing the next generation of bioinformaticians: the SIB Awards

The [BC]2 conference will also host the SIB Awards Ceremony, which will, for the 10th time, honor the excellence of two early career researchers - international as well as Swiss-based - as well as of a bioinformatics resource (database or software) of particular importance for the life science community. Such recognition acts as a springboard for young researchers as well as for emerging tools as past awardees told us in a series of interviews.

Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics

Related Science Articles:

75 science societies urge the education department to base Title IX sexual harassment regulations on evidence and science
The American Educational Research Association (AERA) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) today led 75 scientific societies in submitting comments on the US Department of Education's proposed changes to Title IX regulations.
Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, biopharma, and pharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2018 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.
Science in the palm of your hand: How citizen science transforms passive learners
Citizen science projects can engage even children who previously were not interested in science.
Applied science may yield more translational research publications than basic science
While translational research can happen at any stage of the research process, a recent investigation of behavioral and social science research awards granted by the NIH between 2008 and 2014 revealed that applied science yielded a higher volume of translational research publications than basic science, according to a study published May 9, 2018 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Xueying Han from the Science and Technology Policy Institute, USA, and colleagues.
Prominent academics, including Salk's Thomas Albright, call for more science in forensic science
Six scientists who recently served on the National Commission on Forensic Science are calling on the scientific community at large to advocate for increased research and financial support of forensic science as well as the introduction of empirical testing requirements to ensure the validity of outcomes.
World Science Forum 2017 Jordan issues Science for Peace Declaration
On behalf of the coordinating organizations responsible for delivering the World Science Forum Jordan, the concluding Science for Peace Declaration issued at the Dead Sea represents a global call for action to science and society to build a future that promises greater equality, security and opportunity for all, and in which science plays an increasingly prominent role as an enabler of fair and sustainable development.
PETA science group promotes animal-free science at society of toxicology conference
The PETA International Science Consortium Ltd. is presenting two posters on animal-free methods for testing inhalation toxicity at the 56th annual Society of Toxicology (SOT) meeting March 12 to 16, 2017, in Baltimore, Maryland.
Citizen Science in the Digital Age: Rhetoric, Science and Public Engagement
James Wynn's timely investigation highlights scientific studies grounded in publicly gathered data and probes the rhetoric these studies employ.
Science/Science Careers' survey ranks top biotech, pharma, and biopharma employers
The Science and Science Careers' 2016 annual Top Employers Survey polled employees in the biotechnology, biopharmaceutical, pharmaceutical, and related industries to determine the 20 best employers in these industries as well as their driving characteristics.
Three natural science professors win TJ Park Science Fellowship
Professor Jung-Min Kee (Department of Chemistry, UNIST), Professor Kyudong Choi (Department of Mathematical Sciences, UNIST), and Professor Kwanpyo Kim (Department of Physics, UNIST) are the recipients of the Cheong-Am (TJ Park) Science Fellowship of the year 2016.
More Science News and Science Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Listen Again: The Power Of Spaces
How do spaces shape the human experience? In what ways do our rooms, homes, and buildings give us meaning and purpose? This hour, TED speakers explore the power of the spaces we make and inhabit. Guests include architect Michael Murphy, musician David Byrne, artist Es Devlin, and architect Siamak Hariri.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#576 Science Communication in Creative Places
When you think of science communication, you might think of TED talks or museum talks or video talks, or... people giving lectures. It's a lot of people talking. But there's more to sci comm than that. This week host Bethany Brookshire talks to three people who have looked at science communication in places you might not expect it. We'll speak with Mauna Dasari, a graduate student at Notre Dame, about making mammals into a March Madness match. We'll talk with Sarah Garner, director of the Pathologists Assistant Program at Tulane University School of Medicine, who takes pathology instruction out of...
Now Playing: Radiolab

What If?
There's plenty of speculation about what Donald Trump might do in the wake of the election. Would he dispute the results if he loses? Would he simply refuse to leave office, or even try to use the military to maintain control? Last summer, Rosa Brooks got together a team of experts and political operatives from both sides of the aisle to ask a slightly different question. Rather than arguing about whether he'd do those things, they dug into what exactly would happen if he did. Part war game part choose your own adventure, Rosa's Transition Integrity Project doesn't give us any predictions, and it isn't a referendum on Trump. Instead, it's a deeply illuminating stress test on our laws, our institutions, and on the commitment to democracy written into the constitution. This episode was reported by Bethel Habte, with help from Tracie Hunte, and produced by Bethel Habte. Jeremy Bloom provided original music. Support Radiolab by becoming a member today at     You can read The Transition Integrity Project's report here.