The Biology of Genomes meeting at Cold Spring Harbor is again brimming with interesting talks and, with about 550 participants, brimming with people. Updates have been given, as our sister publication GenomeWeb Daily News reports, on the sequencing of the acute myeloid leukemia relapse genome and the possible limited role of synthetic associations in explaining the missing heritability of common diseases, among other talks. Perhaps one of the more highly anticipated talks was Svante Pääbo's during the evolutionary genomics session — even James Watson was in attendance for this packed series of talks. Pääbo quickly recapped his work, published last week in Science, on the draft Neandertal genome and the possibility of gene flow between Neandertals and humans, as seen in European, Chinese, and Papuan population data.
Pääbo then recounted recent work on another early hominin from Denisova Cave in Siberia, which he and his team sequenced to about 2.1-fold coverage and say that it is about as divergent from humans as Neandertals are, but show no evidence for gene flow.
Earlier in the day, this year's ELSI panel discussed the "extremely important" issue of returning individual research results, as the panel's moderator, Susan Wolf from the University of Minnesota, said.
Though no consensus was reached, the panelists explored the ethical, legal, technical, and practical issues surrounding letting research participants know their results from genomic and genetic studies, particularly in the case of incidental findings. Of interest there was a platform developed by Children's Hospital Boston's Isaac Kohane that allows researchers to flag findings they think might be of interest to the participants. Those findings are then evaluated by a board that decides whether or not the information might be of use to participants. If so, the participants may be notified through an electronic system that allows them to opt in or out of receiving findings back.
Tweets from the meeting can be followed at #bg2010.