In this Master Class, timely topics in genomics research will be addressed. Three renowned researchers will address the latest developments in epigenetics, forensic genomics, personalized medicine, whole genome sequencing, and new genetic variants.
Microbes Inside: Microbiome, Nutrition and Health
Prof. Willem de Vos
Monday August 17, 2015
Since early life, microbes dominate our body in numbers. In the intestinal tract they constitute the largest microbial ecosystem that is close to our heart: our microbes inside. Previous molecular studies have shown that the intestinal tract microbiota is highly personalized. We now have confirmed and extended this in comparative studies with close to 10,000 subjects that show all a different microbial composition. However, we could detect a conserved core network of functionally related microbes, high-level enterotype-like structures, and specific abundance distributions in healthy Western adults. The latter provides support for the presence of alternative stable states with bistable groups reflecting tipping elements. We propose that these states are instrumental for further defining microbiota aberrations. Moreover, these tipping points can be used to delineate early warning signals associated with health changes. We showed that diet may be a driver of these changes and this has been specifically become evident in the extreme diets that we have analysed in western and african populations.
Thus, considerable progress has been made in the understanding the development and structure of our intestinal microbiota but we have only limited insight in their functions. High throughput RNAseq-based analysis has allowed a view of the functions in the upper intestinal tract while metaproteomics has shown to be instrumental in detecting colonic functions. However, while over 1000 microbial species have been cultured from the human intestine, several times more await culturing, the exact number depending on their definition. We have focused on commensal microbes involved in processes that are eminent in the human gut, such as the production of butyrate and propionate, not only from sugars but also from lactate and acetate, as well as mucus that is plentiful in the colon.
This contribution, will address the recent developments in the structure and function of our microbes inside as summarized above. Moreover, attention will be given on how intestinal commensals can serve in next generation products to improve human health by targeting specific intestinal functions.
Using human induced pluripotent stem (iPS) cells to model neuropsychiatric diseases
Prof. Steven Kushner
Tuesday August 18, 2015
Among the principle issues underlying the limited progress in studying the biological mechanisms underlying neuropsychiatric disorders has been the limited access to living neural tissue. Recently, patient-specific induced pluripotent stem cell (iPS) culture techniques have provided the highly unique opportunity to study neural cell cultures derived from humans. For the first time, we can now study the neural development and physiology of cells that are entirely derived from patients, to develop neurobiologically-inspired treatments for human brain diseases.
Transforming the application of Genomic Medicine in healthcare
Prof. Mark Caulfield
Thursday August 20, 2015
Using the framework of the 100,000 Genomes Project the class will explore the scientific case for a whole genome sequencing programme alongside a healthcare transformation programme in genomic medicine. We will examine the disease focus and the infrastructure and analytics required to deliver such a programme.