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An Abundance of Genomics

The Thursday sessions of the 2012 Biology of Genomes meeting being held in Cold Spring Harbor, NY, kicked off with computational biology talks. The University of Washington's Michael Hoffman presented his team's semi-automated approach for analyzing RNA-seq data to uncover functional elements. Hoffman and his colleagues developed a dynamic Bayesian network — an extension of the Segway genomics pattern discovery system — to model different tracks of data.

Evening talks focused on evolutionary genomics. Session co-chair Duncan Odom from the University of Cambridge described his lab's work, studying the evolution of transcription factors and their binding, and the effects of such in diseases like hemophilia. In one part of the study he discussed, Odom and his team found that promoter binding affinity tracked with the clinical severity of disease. Transcription factor binding evolves very rapidly in mammals, Odom added.

Also on Thursday, the Ethical, Legal and Social Implications panel discussed the public's scientific literacy, and researchers' obligations to help supplement the public's understanding of science in general, and genomics in particular. The University of Michigan's Jon Miller described his work to quantify such literacy, and he argued that the public needs an educational foundation to be able to understand scientific advances. Both Miller and the University of California, Los Angeles' Wayne Grody, who has consulted on a number of films and TV shows, recommend that researchers take calls from reporters and screenwriters in order to help the public understand science.

Our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News has more from Biology of Genomes.

The Scan

Study Tracks Responses in Patients Pursuing Polygenic Risk Score Profiling

Using interviews, researchers in the European Journal of Human Genetics qualitatively assess individuals' motivations for, and experiences with, direct-to-consumer polygenic risk score testing.

EHR Quality Improvement Study Detects Demographic-Related Deficiencies in Cancer Family History Data

In a retrospective analysis in JAMA Network Open, researchers find that sex, ethnicity, language, and other features coincide with the quality of cancer family history information in a patient's record.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease Linked to Gut Microbiome Community Structure Gradient in Meta-Analysis

Bringing together data from prior studies, researchers in Genome Biology track down microbial taxa and a population structure gradient with ties to ulcerative colitis or Crohn's disease.

Ancient Greek Army Ancestry Highlights Mercenary Role in Historical Migrations

By profiling genomic patterns in 5th century samples from in and around Himera, researchers saw diverse ancestry in Greek army representatives in the region, as they report in PNAS.