Post-Event Report

NextGen Omics UK 2020 – Post Event Report

01 November 2021
The NextGen Omics UK Series 2020 is one of Oxford Global's most popular events and saw another year of pioneering research in genomics.

This year, our NextGen Omics UK 2020 event series featured four interactive programmes: 12th Annual Next Generation Sequencing Congress, 8th Annual Single Cell Analysis Congress, 6th Annual Genome Editing Congress and 2nd Annual Digital Congress. 2020 marked the first time these events have gone virtual, with a revamped programme featuring the latest developments in the genomics field. NextGen Omics UK 2020 bought together over 1000 industry experts representing internationally renowned academic & research institutions, clinical research institutions, healthcare organisations as well as leading pharmaceutical and biotech companies. 

We had the privilege to welcome some of the key leaders of genomics last year, including Jadwiga Bienkowska (Senior Director and Head of Computational Biology at Pfizer), Yann Abraham (Computational Immunologist Janssen), Akos Végvári (Project Manager, Karolinska Institute), Roberto Nitsch (Associate Director – CRISPR Safety, AstraZeneca), Mike Makrigiorgos (Professor and Director – Medical Physics and Biophysics, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute), Massimo Delledonne (Professor of Biotechnology, University of Verona), Patrick Descombes (Head of Genomics, Nestle Institute of Food Safety Analytical Sciences) and Ed Oakeley (Associate Director of Genomics, Novartis).   

Key Topics 

NextGen Omics UK took place between 04 – 06 November last year and was split into four main tracks.  

12th Annual Next Generation Sequencing & Clinical Diagnostics Congress  

This year’s event featured a brand new, revamped programme. Topics included key developments in delivering genomic-based medicine and NGS (Next Generation Sequencing) bioinformatics. This year the event was extended to cover microbiome methodologies and long and short-read sequencing. In addition, a roundtable discussion on ‘Managing Expectations in Bioinformatic Data Communication’ drew the attention of many of our attendees. The discussion covered data analysis in practice and communicating the data and concepts of data to other people. The event also features two open panels on Covid-19 where attendees could share their opinions about its effect on the epigenome and whether scRNA-seq could aid in developing a vaccine.  

8th Annual Single Cell Analysis Congress 

This comprehensive programme delved deep into spatial transcriptomics, genomics, spatial profiling, emerging single-cell analysis tools and clinical applications. In addition, the event covered single-cell analysis in drug discovery & development, focusing on how single cells can help inform various stages of the drug discovery and development pipeline. Interactive sessions included three panel discussions: ‘Single Cell Proteomics in 2020’, ‘Addressing Different Spatial Omics Techniques’ and ‘Single Cell Analysis for Drug Discovery – Applications & Challenges’.  

6th Annual Genome Editing Congress  

Returning for a sixth year, our Genome Editing Congress supplied the latest insights and success stories in genome editing tools and technologies, as well as therapeutic genome editing. The event looked at translating cell & gene therapies in the clinic, emphasising developing genome editing technologies sufficient for clinical applications. The conference featured two panel discussions; ‘Bridging the Gap: Bringing Cell and Gene Therapies to the Clinic’ and ‘Beyond Cas-9 – Utilising New CRISPR Systems’.  

2nd Annual Digital PCR Congress  

Building on the success of last year’s event, this year’s Digital PCR Congress featured discussions on the opportunities to advance the integration of digital PCR with NGS, genome editing and novel digital PCR systems. In addition, presentations explored the diverse applications of digital PCR, including a cutting-edge focus session on the role of digital PCR in clinical oncology and its uses in detection and diagnosis. 

Top 5 Most Viewed Presentations 

  • Single Cell Multiomics Including Simultaneous Profiling of Gene Expression and Chromatin Landscape by Stephen Hague (Senior Science and Technical Advisor, 10xGenomics
  • Approaches For Efficient Detection of Cancer Biomarkers in Liquid Biopsies Using ddpcr and NGS by Mike Makrigiorgos (Professor and Director, Medical Physics and Biophysics, Dana Farber Cancer Institute
  • Sequencing Evolved — Highly Accurate Long Reads for Human Genetics by Ralph Vogelsang (Business Development Manager, EMEA, PacBio) 
  • A Complete Workflow for Analysis Of cfDNA: From Plasma to Variants by Shilpa Parakh (Senior Applications Scientist in Automation & Biotechnology Business Unit, Beckman Coulter Life Sciences) and Nicole Roseman (Research Scientist, Integrated DNA Technologies
  • Expand Your Understanding of Biology with Illumina Single-Cell and Spatial Sequencing by Pawel Zajac (Senior Segment Marketing Manager EMEA, Cell Biology, Illumina

Benefits to Attending  

Attendees of this year’s NextGen Omics UK were given a glimpse of the future of the genomics field. This event brought together industry leaders who shared cutting edge information on cell analysis, genome editing, cutting edge sequencing techniques and the latest developments in digital PCR. 

This year’s NextGen Omics UK provided a unique chance to network, an indispensable opportunity in today’s fast-paced world, allowing attendees to engage in interactive discussions including: 

An open discussion addressing Covid-19 and its direct relevance and effect on how severity is related to viral load and how scRNA-seq could aid in developing a vaccine: 

  • COVID-19 – Open Discussion – Miao-Ping Chien  (Oncode Principal Investigator, Erasmus University Medical Centre)  

Two Panel Discussions addressing the frontiers & limitation of spatial omics and single-cell analysis from the pharma perspective:   

  • Addressing Different Spatial Omics Techniques – Giamcomo Vavalli (Research Director, French National Centre for Scientific Research)  
  • Single Cell Analysis for Drug Discovery – Applications & Challenges – Yong Wang (Principal Scientist – Computational Genomics, Bristol-Myers Squibb

Market Trends  

Next Generation Sequencing 

This year’s Next Generation Sequencing & Clinical Diagnostics Congress was busier this year with presentations and discussions on novel methods & approaches to multi-omics data integration, advanced data integration platforms, software tools and cloud computing for WGS data analysis, quality control and statistical tools for data integration, liquid biopsies, plasmid integration in genome editing and the use of optical and electronic mapping. This year, long and short-read sequencing and microbiome methodologies proved especially popular, with several sessions dedicated to exploring the latest developments.  

Single Cell Omics 

It is no surprise that our Single Cell Analysis Congress proved more popular than ever. Analysing a single cell makes it possible to discover mechanisms not observable when studying multiple cells, and recent research is increasing interest across the pharmaceutical industry and academia. This year’s topics were split between four “streams”: clinical application, omics: spatial transcriptomics, genomics and spatial profiling, and finally, current and emerging tools for single-cell omics analysis. Presentations on the latest software and RNA (ribonucleic acid) sequencing drew some of the largest crowds for this area.  

Genome Editing 

The 6th Annual Genome Editing Congress was divided into three main streams: Genome Editing Technologies & Techniques​, Genome Editing in Discovery & Development and Therapeutic Applications of Genome Editing. Subjects covered in the Genome Editing and Techniques stream included viral and non-viral gene delivery systems​, cellular and genomic effects of different CRISPR delivery formats​, mitigation of off-target mutations​, improved knock-in/knock-out methodologies​, base editing, prime editing​ and designing CG→GC base editors. ​Genome Editing in Discovery and Development covered areas related to the impact of gene editing on drug discovery, encompassing target identification & validation, in vivo genome editing as a therapeutic approach in pharma​, non-human models in diagnostics & therapeutics, implementing gene-editing systems for drug screening and development​, mitigation of off-target mutations​ and methods of engineering single-nucleotide variants. The third and final stream, Therapeutic Applications of Genome Editing, was undoubtedly the most exciting for many, discussing the possibilities of genome editing for fighting cancer​, neurodegenerative diseases​, cardiovascular disease​, liver disease​, congenital disorders​, and more. In addition, specificity and safety considerations​ ethical and legal issues of human germline editing​ also received significant attention.  

Digital PCR  

This year the agenda was developed to address two primary areas. The first focused on integrating digital PCR with NGS, genome editing and novel PCR systems and looked at . The second covered applications of digital PCR technologies in therapeutics, focusing on oncology and infectious diseases.  

Conclusion  

The NextGen Omics UK Series 2020 saw another year of pioneering research in genomics. We were pleased to see the positive feedback from our attendees. The lively networking sessions provided an exclusive opportunity for everyone to engage and share ideas, innovations and gain inspiration for the future. The NextGen Omics Series is one of Oxford Global’s most well-established events that we hold each year in November. For the latest updates on upcoming events, discussion groups, industry insight articles and more, be sure to join our monthly NextGen Omics newsletter!

Speaker Biographies

Jadwiga Bienkowska (Senior Director and Head of Computational Biology at Pfizer)

Dr. Bienkowska is a Sr. Director and Head of Computational Biology at Pfizer in Oncology Research and Development. The team led by Dr. Bienkowska is responsible for computational aspects of projects from early discovery through late-stage clinical development in Oncology. Responsibilities include development and implementation of strategies for biomarkers/target identification and patient selection through innovative, integrative analysis of large-scale data from preclinical models, patient registries and clinical trials in collaboration with discovery and clinical teams. Dr. Bienkowska has deep expertise in developing and applying NGS-based technologies to target discovery and investigations of mechanisms of resistance in clinical trials in therapeutic areas spanning Oncology, Immunology and Neurology. Dr. Bienkowska actively collaborates with academic groups developing novel NGS and computational technologies. Her academic appointments include Adjunct Professor in the Department of Medicine, Genetics at UCSD, Visiting Scientist at CSAIL, MIT and Adjunct Professor in Biomedical Engineering Department at Boston University. Dr. Bienkowska has PhD degree in Physics from the University of Chicago and completed postdoctoral training at Harvard and Dana Farber Cancer Institute in Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology.

Yann Abraham (Computational Immunologist – Janssen)

As part of the Discovery Science department of Janssen Pharmaceutica, Yann has been working on the application of mass cytometry to clinical trials, building high dimensional analysis and visualisation solutions to gain insights into disease mechanisms and response to treatment. Before joining Janssen Pharmaceutica, he worked on target identification and target validation using transcriptomics and mass spectrometry, blending biology, technology and analysis. Yann received his PhD in biochemistry from the University Paris XI Orsay, working on the regulation of centrosome duplication.

Akos Végvári (Project Manager, Karolinska Institute)

Akos Végvári has dual Ph.D. in biochemistry and analytical chemistry and presently is the head of the Proteomics Biomedicum core facility at Karolinska Institute, Stockholm. He has a broad experience in method development in separation science and mass spectrometry-based proteomics. His primary research interest is to develop the methodology of single cell proteomics that utilises mass spectrometry for studying various processes of biological and medical importance, including cancer and viral infections.

Roberto Nitsch (Associate Director – CRISPR Safety, AstraZeneca)

Roberto Nitsch is the Associate Director of CRISPR safety at AstraZeneca. He has extensive experience in academia and pharmaceuticals industry and is responsible for the safety evaluation of therapeutic applications of CRISPR/Cas9. He has strong skills in Life Sciences with particular emphasis on genome editing and in vivo delivery using viral and non-viral vehicles.

Mike Makrigiorgos (Professor and Director – Medical Physics and Biophysics, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute)

Dr. Makrigiorgos is a Professor of Radiation Oncology and Director of the Medical Physics & Biophysics division at Dana Farber Cancer Institute and Brigham and Women’s Hospitals, Harvard Medical School.  He also directs the DNA technology laboratory and the radiation pre-clinical facility. His research interests include the development of novel DNA technologies for molecular diagnostics in Oncology and the identification of circulating cancer biomarkers.  He is the inventor of several PCR-based techniques for molecular diagnostics, including COLD-PCR and NaME-PrO technologies.  He is a Member of the Editorial Board of Clinical Chemistry and has published over 150 articles, reviews and book chapters.

Massimo Delledonne (Professor of Biotechnology, University of Verona).

Massimo Delledonne received his Ph.D. from Università Cattolica del S. C. in 1994. During 1995-1998 he visited Chris Lamb at the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in California, discovering the function of nitric oxide in plant disease resistance. In 2001, he joined the University of Verona as Associate Professor of Plant Genetics (SSD Agr/07) and a few years later he joined the genomic revolution by adopting the new technologies that Next Generation Sequencing was offering to microbial, plant, animal and human biologists.

Massimo Delledonne is currently Full Professor of Genetics (SSD Bio/18). He manages a vigorous research program that emphasises interdisciplinary approaches to understanding plant and human biology. His own expertise is in the areas of genetics, molecular biology and genomics, and collaborates with researchers in diverse fields, including bioinformatics, microbiology and plant genomics, and medicine.

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Commentary
The applications of NGS are swiftly expanding, and new methods for data storage, analysis, and visualisation are needed. However, the complexity of sample processing for NGS has created problems in managing, analysing, and storing the datasets. 
03 November 2021

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