Sunday, January 26, 2014

Kudos to the DOE-JGI for organizing a genomics meeting w/ a good gender ratio - no kudos to BGI - yet again.

Very happy to see the preliminary speaker list for The Annual DOE JGI User Meeting.  As many are aware, I have blogged and posted extensively about gender ratio at conferences and in particular at conferences related to genomics.  And alas, many people running genomics related meetings seem incapable of organizing a meeting with a reasonable gender ratio.  Some of my past posts on this and related topics include
But of course, there are some meetings out there that do a good job in having speakers represent at least some aspects of the diversity of scientists.  I am for example proud of the 2012 Lake Arrowhead Small Genomes meeting I co-organized: Lake Arrowhead Microbial Genomes Meeting 2012 Speaker Gender Ratio #LAMG12.  But I do not frequently write about meetings that are doing a good job with gender ratio and I am trying to also give props to such cases here.  And thus I was very pleased when I received an email telling me about the The Annual DOE JGI User Meeting.  From their web site here are the current confirmed speakers:

  • Annalee Newitz, io9 "How humans will survive a mass extinction"
  • Steve Quake, Stanford University "Single cell genomics"
Other confirmed speakers:
  • Martin Ackermann, ETH Zurich - "A single cell perspective on bacterial interactions"
  • Luke Alphey, Oxitec - "Genetic control of mosquitoes"
  • Mary Berbee, University of British Columbia - "Genomes of early-diverging fungi reveal evidence of enzymes for breakdown of plant cell walls"
  • David Berry, University of Vienna (Austria) - "Single cell isotope probing of microbes via Raman microspectroscopy: A new way of in situ functional analyses and cell sorting"
  • Nicole Dubilier, Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology "Metagenomic and metaproteomic analyses of symbioses between bacteria and gutless marine worms"
  • Katrina Edwards, University of Southern California - "Genomics and proteomics of zeta proteobacteria"
  • Michael Fischbach, University of California, San Francisco -"A gene-to-molecule approach to the discovery and characterization of natural products"
  • Phil McClean, North Dakota State University -"Uncovering signatures of domestication using genomic resequencing and association mapping"
  • June Medford, Colorado State University -"Making better plants: synthetic approaches in plant engineering"
  • Maria Mercedes Roca, Zamorano University (Honduras) -"Synthetic biology & bioenergy: helping the good guys and stopping the bad"
  • Anne Osbourn, John Innes Centre -"Plant specialized Metabolites - Synthesis, function and mechanisms of metabolic diversification"
  • Pamela Ronald, UC Davis - "Whole genome sequencing of rice mutants to identify genes controlling response to strss and cell wall saccharification"
  • Steve Rounsley, Dow Agrosciences - "Cassava genomics - applying genomic technologies to benefit smallholder farmers in Africa."
  • Kankshita Swaminathan, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign - "Genome biology of Miscanthus"
  • Rytas Vilgalys, Duke University -"Understanding the forest microbiome: a fungal perspective"
  • Dan Voytas, University of Minnesota - "Precise engineering of genomes with sequence-specific nucleases"
So that is a ratio of 9:9 male to female and a ratio of 1:1 for keynote speakers.  Good to see.  Now if only everyone else would do this.  In contrast to DOE-JGI consider the recent BGI organized meeting  "The 8th International Conference on Genomics" that was at the end of October in 2013.  By browsing through the interactive list of Speakers and their Agenda I come up with the following:

Keynote talks: Male 2: Female 0
Session Chairs Male 15: Female 4
Any role:  96 male: 17 female

Pretty painful.  It is even more painful to me to look at the whole list.  The full list with people I have classified as men highlighted in yellow and women in green.  Just look at the overrepresentation of yellow. 

Opening Remarks
  • Jun Wang, BGI
  • Huanming Yang, BGI
Keynote Speech

  • Technologies for Reading, Writing & Interpreting Omes -George Church, Harvard Medical School
Plenary Session 1: Emerging Technology Innovation
  • Chairman: Radoje Drmanac, Complete Genomics
  • Advanced Diploid Genome Sequencing Using Long Fragment Read Technology Radoje Drmanac, Complete Genomics
  • The Application of SmartChip on Target Region Capture Sequencing Hui Jiang, BGI
  • What Happens When Sequencing Becomes Really Cheap, Really Easy, and Really Fast Stefan Roever, Genia Technologies
  • Ion Torrent Semiconductor Technology – Targeted & Exome Sequencing Made Simple Andy Felton, Life Technologies
Plenary Session 2: Human Genome Projects and Big Data Management
  • Chairman: Stephan Beck, UCL Cancer Institute
  • TBC George Church, Harvard Medical School
  • Genomic Medicine in China and HVP-China Database Ming Qi, BGI
  • Population Genomics: Pan Asia Population Genomics Initiative and Korean Personal Genome Project Jong Bhak, Genome Research Foundation/Personal Genomics Institute
  • Gene Discovery and Data Sharing in Genome Wide Association Analyses: Lessons Form AIDS Genetic Restriction Genes Steve O’Brien, St. Petersburg State University
  • Systems Thinking in Clinical Genomics: a Requirements Perspective Sanjay Joshi, EMC
Plenary Session 3: Crowdsourcing and Crowdfunding Open-source Genomics, a New Model of Scientific Research
  • Chairman: Scott Edmunds, GigaScience
  • uBiome-Sequencing the Human Microbiome Using Citizen Science Zachary Apte, uBiome
  • Crowdsourcing Analyses of the Emergent Pathogen Ash Dieback Dan MacLean, The Sainsbury Laboratory
  • Parrots of the Caribbean: from One Genome to an Evolutionary Model of Island Evolution Taras Oleksyk, University of Puerto Rico
  • TBC Jacob Shiach, Brightwork CoResearch
Keynote Speech
  • The Omics World: To Explore the Unexplorable - Personalized Health will Depend on Your Gut Flora Jun Wang, BGI
Session 4: Clinical Transomics
  • Chairman: Vince Gao, BGI
  • Clinical Transomics Approaches for 4 P Medicine Vince Gao, BGI
  • Insights Into The Lethal Phenotype of Prostate Cancer Colin Collins, Vancouver Prostate Centre
  • Metabonomics in Clinical Research Jia Li, Imperial College London
  • The Ultimate Genetic Test: Accurate and Affordable WGS for Advanced Reproductive Health and Genomic Healthcare Radoje Drmanac, Complete Genomics
Session 5: Newborn and Reproductive Health
  • Chairman: Yutao Du, BGI
  • Pre- and Postimplantation Aneuploidy Testing in Germany Tina Buchholz, Centre for Reproductive Genetics
  • Metabolomics in Newborn Health: Newborn Screening for the Identification of Metabolic Disorders of Inborn Errors of Metablism (IEM) Enzo Ranieri, SA Neonatal Screening Centre
  • The Application of Molecular Biological Technologies in Prenatal Diagnosis Tze Kin LAU, The Chinese Fetal Medicine Foundation
  • NGS Technology in Clinical Genetic Practice in India - Successes and Pitfalls Ishwar Verma, Sir Ganga Ram Hospital
Session 6: Animal Genomics
  • Chairman: Robin Gasser, University of Melbourne
  • The Genomics of Socioeconomically Important Parasites – Recent Breakthroughs and Prospects Robin Gasser, University of Melbourne
  • Strategies for de novo Assembling Complex Genomes Xiaodong Fang, BGI
  • Poultry Genomics: Current Status and Future Trends from Next Generation Sequencing David W. Burt, The Roslin Institute, University of Edinburgh
  • Genomics and Genetic Design of Pigs Lars Bolund, Aarhus University
  • Mining Important Agronomic Trait Genes by Evolutionary Genomics Wen Wang, Kunming Institute of Zoology, CAS
Session 7: Crop Genomics
  • Chairman: Yong Pyo Lim, Chungnam National University
  • Genetics to Genomics : Dissecting Brassica Genome for Applied Breeding Yong Pyo Lim, Chungnam National University
  • The Draft Aegilops tauschii Genome Sequencing and Its Application in Wheat Gene discovery and Breeding Jizeng Jia, Crop Science Research Institute, CAAS
  • Dynamic Changes of Rice Transcriptome Revealed by Large-scale RNA-seq Analysis Takeshi Itoh, National Institute of Agrobiological Sciences
  • New Trends in RNA Sequencing and the Emerging Impact on Crop Genomics David L. Delano, Illumina
  • Whole Genome Molecular Marker Assisted Selection—from Concepts to Application Gengyun Zhang, BGI
  • Next Generation Genomics for Hexaploid Wheat Mario Caccamo, The Genome Analysis Centre
  • Using Genetics to Protecting the World’s Cereal Crops from the Rust Diseases Robert Park, The University of Sydney Plant Breeding Institute
  • Enabling Complete Transcriptome Sequencing with SENSE and SQUARE RNA-Seq. Alexander Seitz, Lexogen GmbH
Session 8: Disease Genomics-1
  • Chairman: Lennart Hammarstrom, Karolinska Institute
  • Genetic Analysis of Major Depression in 10,000 Chinese Women Using Low Pass Sequencing Data Jonathan Flint, Wellcome Trust Centre For Human Genetics
  • Integrated Systems Analysis of Schizophrenia Murray Cairns, University of Newcastle
  • Using Gene Expression Data to Help Identify Causal Genes in Inherited Disorders and Its Application to Brain Disorders Melanie Bahlo, Walter and Eliza Hall Institute of Medical Research
  • New Functional Genomics Strategies to Find Conserved Regulators of Disease Greg Neely, Garvan Institute
Session 9: Disease Genomics-2
  • Chairman: Jonathan Flint, Wellcome Trust Centre For Human Genetics
  • Genetics of Early Onset Myasthenia Gravis Lennart Hammarstrom, Karolinska Institute
  • Frequent Observation of Human Betaretrovirus proviral Integrations in Autoimmune Liver Disease Gane Ka-Shu Wong, University of Alberta
  • Experience with Cardiogenetics Jumana Yousif Adeeb Al-Aama, King Abdulaziz University
  • Application of Second Generation Sequencing to Transplantation Rejection Arena Brendan Keating, University of Pennsylvania / Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
  • The Future of Genome Medicine in Patient Care Hakon Hakonarson, University of Pennsylvania / Children's Hospital of Philadelphia
WS1: Science and Society - An Open Discussion on Burning Issues
  • Chairman: Frederick Dubee, United Nations Global Compact; Atsun Guo, BGI
  • TBC Frederick Dubee, United Nations Global Compact
  • TBC Laurie Goodman, GigaScience
  • Ethical Issues Raised by Synthetic Biology Ruipeng Lei, Huazhong University of Science and Technology
  • Genomics and Human Dignity Xinyu Cheng, Huazhong University of Science and Technology
Questions and Answers
  • Atsun Guo, BGI
Session 10: Marine Genomics
  • Chairman: B. Venkatesh, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, A-STAR
  • Evolutionary History of the Early Branching Lineage of Vertebrates B. Venkatesh, Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology, A-STAR
  • Whole Genome Sequencing, Assembly, and Annotation of Odontesthes Bonariensis (Pejerrey), a Fish with Temperature-dependent Sex Determination Guillermo Orti, George Washington University
  • How Did Ultrarapid Evolution Remodel the Chordate Genome in the Tunicate Branch Daniel Chourrout, Sars International Centre
  • Turtle also Follows the General Formulation of Embryonic Evolution Naoki Irie, University of Tokyo
Session 11: Personal Genome
  • Chairman: Cliff Reid, Complete Genomics
  • IntroductionCliff Reid, Complete Genomics
  • Personal Genomes, from Beginning to Today Dietrich Stephan, SVBio and Navigenics
  • Interpreting Genomes at Scale for Clinical Relevance Martin Reese, Omicia, Inc.
  • TBC Hai Mi, SB China Venture Capital Limited
  • TBC Brian Gu, JP Morgan
Session 12: Cancer Research-1
  • Chairman: Colin Collins, Vancouver Prostate Centre
  • The Challenges and Promises of Cancer Research: Lessons from the Laboratory Yuzhuo Wang, Vancouver Prostate Centre, BC Cancer Agency
  • Cancer Transcriptome Sequencing Tatsuhiro Shibata, Division of Cancer Genomics, National Cancer Center
  • Whole Genome Sequencing Analysis of Liver Cancer, Forwarding to Personalized Cancer Medicine Hidewaki Nakagawa, RIKEN Center for Genomic Medicine
  • Identification of PCDHB3 as a Potential Tumor Suppressor Gene in Colorectal Cancer by Exome Sequencing: A Highthroughput Sequencing Study Wenlin Huang, Sun Yat-Sen University Cancer Center
  • Biomarkers and Personalised Cancer Treatment — Clinical Validation and Application of ALK Fusion Testing in NSCLC Shuwen Huang, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust
Session 13: Genomic Evolution and Biodiversity
  • Chairman: Guojie Zhang, BGI
  • Comparative Genomics of Climate Change Adaptation Among Drosophila Species John Oakeshott, CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences
  • Artiodactyl Genome Evolution Harris A. Lewin, University of California, Davis
  • The Making of Differences Between Fins and Limbs: Developmental Aspects of Fin-to-limb Transition Koji Tamura,Tohoku University
  • Building the Link Between Micro-evolution and Macro-evolution -Lesson from Avian Phylogenomic Study Guojie Zhang, BGI
  • Genomic Hotspots of Adaptation- Reshuffling of Modular Enhancers Underlies Phenotypic Change in Heliconius Butterflies Owen McMillan, Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute
  • Sequencing Virus Population, Divergence and Evolution Hui Wang, Centre For Ecology & Hydrology
  • Genomic Revolution in Inset Phylogeny and Biodiversity Studies Xin Zhou, BGI
Session 14: Open Platforms for Biological Data
  • Chairman: Peter Li, GigaScience
  • Using Galaxy for Metabolomics Robert Davidson, Natural Environmental Research Council (NERC), Birmingham University
  • The IRRI Genotyping Service Laboratory Galaxy: Bioinformatics for Rice Scientists Ramil Mauleon, International Rice Research Institute
  • DNA Barcoding Illuminates Dark Taxa and Advances Turbo Taxonomy Robert Hanner, University of Guelph/Centre for Biodiversity Genomics
  • A new standard for eukaryotic species description, combining transcriptomic, DNA barcoding, and micro-CT imaging data Pavel Stoev, Pensoft Publishers Ltd.
Session 15: Informatics for Genomic Medicine
  • Genomic Medicine Pauline Ng, Genome Institute of Singapore
  • Research Data Management and Analysis as a Service : Experiences in building Globus Genomics Ravi K Madduri, Argonne National Laboratory Computation Institute, University of Chicago
  • Making a Definitive Diagnosis: On the Path to Realizing the Promise of Genomic Medicine Elizabeth Worthey, Medical College of Wisconsin
  • Genomic Medicine and beyond in IBM Takahiko Koyama, IBM
Session 16: Cancer Research-2
  • Chairman: Qiang Pan Hammarstrom, Karolinska Institute
  • Genetic Identification of Key Pathways in Lung Adenocarcinoma Metastasis Qiang Pan Hammarstrom, Karolinska Institute
  • Probing the Cancer Methylome Stephan Beck, UCL Cancer Institute
  • Making Sense of Cancer Genomes Steve Rozen, Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School Singapore
  • An Integrative Genomics Study on Angioimmunoblastic T-cell Lymphoma Sanghyuk Lee, Ewha Womans University
  • Multidiscilinary Role in Molecular/Genomic Diagnostics and Personalized Cancer Medicine Dongfeng Tan, MD Anderson Cancer Center
Session 17: Metagenomics and Health
  • Chairman: Karsten Kristiansen, University of Copenhagen
  • Establishment of the Human Gut Microbiota after Birth Karsten Kristiansen, University of Copenhagen
  • Gut Microbiota—Our ‘Other’ Genome Huijue Jia, BGI
  • Elucidating the Role of Human Gut Microbiota in Diseases: Metagenomics to the Rescue Manimozhiyan Arumugam, University of Copenhagen
  • Deep Metagenomic Sequencing of Multiple Ruminant Guts Reveals Species-specific Microbiomes Mick Watson, ARK-Genomics, Centre for Comparative & Functional Genomics
  • Our Second Genome, Environment and Allergy are Related Petri Auvinen, University of Helsinki
WS2: Human Genomic Data and Society
  • Chairman: Laurie Goodman, GigaScience
  • Translating Scientific Information to the Public Laurie Goodman, GigaScience
  • Genetic Counseling and Genetic Testing in the Genomics Era Thong Meow Keong, University of Malaya
  • Conflicting Open Access data Sharing and Patient Privacy in Genome Association- Can We Fix This Steve O’Brien, St. Petersburg State University
  • Family Genome Analysis When Privacy Issues Are Not A Concern Manuel Corpas, Norwich Research Park
  • Strategies for Engaging the Public on Personal Genetics Ting Wu, Harvard Medical School
I note - I was invited to the BGI meeting that was co-hosted by my own institution - UC Davis last year  - but I turned down the invitation due to the gender ratio of speakers on their preliminary list.  This was certainly awkward for me and who knows if it did some damage to how I am viewed by some people on campus.  But we as a community need to take stands on such issues.  Sure - there are many explanations for why a meeting might have a skewed ratio of genders in the speakers. But given that this is a persistent / consistent pattern at meetings organized by BGI - I think this is at the point where I would definitely recommend people stop paying to attend their meetings.  And I would not recommend speaking at their meetings either.  That is, until they make a serious commitment to doing something about their apparent bias against women.  I would even go so far as to say it is time to consider not working with BGI in any way until they address this issue.

UPDATE - 12:00 PM 1/26 - Here are some of my previous posts about BGI organized meetings

UPDATE 2: 12:30 PM 1/26

Somewhat hard to find information on their past meetings on the web because they use a static web site for the meetings some years but I was able to find some information on their sites:


  1. I appreciate you pointing out the lack of women representation at many genomics conferences. The gender imbalance for participants of the Global Invertebrate Genomics Alliance (GIGA) in another one that I find particularly egregious

  2. You missed ICG Americas 2013 (which had 2 female keynotes):

    1. Look at the full lineup for that meeting not many women

  3. Jonathan, Your hypocrisy sees no bound. Surely you did not see anything wrong in the racist policies of biorxiv in not including no east Asian, and four of your brother's friends. Instead of lecturing BGI, you should buy a mirror first.


    1. So - on the one hand - I would be interested in hearing more about possible anti-east-Asian bias in biology and academia. I know nothing about it. Bias against women - both implicit and explicit - is well documented and I am simply pointing out (putative) additional cases here. But on the other hand, your "four of your brother's friends" makes me think you are not really interested in an actual discussion of anything. And anyway - which four are my brother's friends? My guess is he knows all of them. But I don't know.

  4. and speaking of moral superiority and other things, can you explain why your PLoS empire could only find a CEO from the worst of the worst subprime bank?

    "PLoS is a well-managed journal that brought open-access to the biological community. On the other hand, PLoS CEO worked for seven years at a high position of Golden West bank, which later merged with failed bank Wachovia. Those seven years happen to be 2000-2007, the biggest period of subprime business.

    If you do not know anything about Golden West, it and IndyMac were the worst of the worst in subprime lending, and had very big roles in wrecking the US economy. Both bank failed, and had to be bailed out and merged with other big banks to hide their losses and unethical lending.

    Most of you scientists do not have research funds, because the US and UK governments bailed out bankers in 2008 and then decided to cut down research funding to ‘reduce deficit’. If you scientists want to be ignorant about the outside world and their impact on science budget, that is fine. If you consider those factors, you will come to the conclusion that it is equally immoral to publish with PLOS, unless they come clean about the role of their CEO in Golden West’s business."

    1. I get it - you think PLOS is evil and will look for anything to support that belief. But you lost me here.

  5. Thanks for drawing attention to this! I have had some "interesting" experiences working with a consortium that is partly steered by someone at BGI. I got the impression that there is a very rigid hierarchy in place that is not a reflection of merit (seems consistent with the conference speaker issue you describe). Needless to say, this did not benefit the science. Not recognizing when you are out of your depth is a tad problematic! Some also seemed disgruntled about how credit was given.

  6. Speaking as a female genomics researcher, I have attended recent meetings as the sole female speaker. I appreciate you blogging on a very important topic of gender disparity. Talking about it and raising awareness is the first step towards action.


Most recent post

My Ode to Yolo Bypass

Gave my 1st ever talk about Yolo Bypass and my 1st ever talk about Nature Photography. Here it is ...