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23andMe Scientists To Present New Findings


23andMe scientists will be at the annual American Society of microscopeHuman Genetics meeting in Vancouver this month sharing a wide spectrum of interesting data that includes more on the genetics of Parkinson’s disease, promising new methods for drug discovery, and even some fun findings around traits like nail biting and the ability to carry a tune.

These conferences, which attract thousands of geneticists and include hundreds of scientific presentations over four days, are very difficult to encapsulate in one article. But each year ASHG does a good job of keying in on the most interesting current issues in the field of genetics, creating forums for some of those big ideas, and then offers scientists a chance to show off their latest work in those areas.

This year is no different with talks on gene editing, strategies for incorporating health records into genetic research, and panel discussions on the genetics of cancer and aging.

Along with presenting some of our own findings, 23andMe also has the honor of having two of our scientists speak at this year’s conference.

Richard Scheller, 23andMe’s chief science officer and head of the therapeutics group, will speak on Wednesday during a session on using genome wide association studies to help in developing drug targets. Richard will be one of four speakers during a session titled “From GWAS and Mendelian Genes to Therapeutic Drug Targets.” 23andMe’s therapeutics group is using human genetic data as the starting point for identifying new therapies for both common and rare diseases.

23andMe senior statistical geneticist Chao Tian will also be speaking at the four-day conference. Chao is no stranger to the conference having presented a poster in 2013 that used genome-wide association studies to classify HLA alleles that are associated with infectious diseases. This year Chao will speak in a short “platform session” on Saturday Oct. 22 focused on Neuropsychiatric Disease in the Young and Old. She will present data on genetic and phenotypic associations for nail biting. Among her findings were that some of the variants associated with the trait are in genes or gene regions that have also been associated with certain psychiatric disorders.

Along with talks, panel discussions and plenary sessions, scientists will also highlight their findings in poster sessions — which usually consists of vast halls where researchers literally post their work on boards, and stand by to answer questions posed by anyone who happens to walk by. This informal question and answer session — involving attendees, most of whom are scientists — can be the most stimulating part of the conference, where researchers are forced sometimes to explain their methods and defending their findings in real time.

Below is the list of some of the poster presentations 23andMe will present at ASHG. We’ll provide more details during the conference.

The 23andMe Blog