EXCHANGE   Conference

CIFAR-GETx Conference: Brave New World

Jun 4 - Jun 5 / 18  

Toronto, ON







The future of genetic networks is here. What methodological and conceptual approaches can we use to further decipher and attribute gene variants to complex traits? How can this knowledge be used and integrated to understand disease etiology and the longer-term pursuit of precision medicine?


Nearly all human disease has a genetic foundation. A fundamental goal of genetics is to understand how genetic variation leads to phenotypic variation. Considerable advancements have been made in reaching this goal, yet the complexity of genetic interactions (in both coding and non-coding regions), as well as environmental determinants of complex disease makes it challenging to fully attribute genetic causality, predict predisposition, and advance whole-genome precision medicine.  A deeper understanding of how the accumulation of small genetic effects and gene interactions give rise to the overall functioning of a cell will continue to bring the broader genetics community closer to this goal.

On June 4 – 5, 2018, CIFAR’s program in Genetic Networks, in partnership with GET, will be hosting a GETx conference to explore emerging research questions and visionary ideas on gene variants and the larger genetic networks they belong within, in order to better understand complex disease. International thought leaders from research, healthcare and industry will deliberate together on how genetic interactions give rise to phenotypes, by examining this topic through various experimental designs and conceptual approaches that have the potential to drive precision medicine.

The CIFAR-GETx Conference is sponsored by the University of Toronto McLaughlin Centre and Autodesk. The conference is an affiliate event of GET, an annual forum to debate the technical, commercial, and societal impacts of advances in our ability to measure and understand people and their traits.

Please find a speaker list below.

Download Conference Slides
Day 1 Slides
Day 2 Slides


Philip Awadalla

Philip Awadalla
Director, Computational Biology
Ontario Institute for Cancer Research

Hannah Carter

Hannah Carter
CiFAR Azrieli Global Scholar
Genetic Networks


George Church
Professor of Genetics
Harvard University

Nancy Cox

Nancy J. Cox
Director, Division of Genetic Medicine
Vanderbilt Genetics Institute

Amit Deshwar

Amit Deshwar
Senior Research Scientist


Marc Fiume
Chief Executive Officer & Co-Founder


Andrew Hessel
Chief Executive Officer
Humane Genomics Inc.


Trey Ideker
Professor, Department of Medicine
University of California, San Diego

David Kelley

David Kelley
Principal Data Scientist


Hu Li
Center for Individualized Medicine and the Department of Molecular Pharmacology & Experimental Therapeutics, Mayo Clininc


Jennifer Listgarten
University of California, Berkeley

Calum Macrae

Calum MacRae
Chief, Cardiovascular Medicine
Brigham and Women's Hospital


Prashant Mali
Assistant Professor of Bioengineering
University of California, San Diego 

Chad Myers

Chad Myers
Fellow, Genetic Networks

Jason Moffat

Jason Moffat
Senior Fellow, Genetic Networks

Jasper Rine

Jasper Rine
Principal Investigator
University of California, Berkeley

Bio Outline

Frederick Roth
Program Co-Director and Senior Fellow, Genetic Networks

Stephen Scherer

Stephen W. Scherer
Senior Fellow, Genetic Networks

Adam Shlien

Adam Shlien
Assistant Professor
Hospital for Sick Children


Shamil Sunyaev
Professor of Medicine & Biomedical Informatics
Harvard University, School of Medicine

Program Schedule


JUNE 4, 2018

8:00 – Breakfast

8:30 – Welcome and stage setting for conference

9:00 – Keynote address
George Church, Harvard University

9:45 – Coffee Break

10:15 – Session 1: Complex Factors That Influence Genotype to Phenotype
Discussion moderator: Hannah Carter, CIFAR Azrieli Global Scholar, University of California, San Diego

• Jasper Rine, University of California, Berkeley 
• David Kelley, Calico 
• Trey Ideker, University of California, San Diego

11:00 – Moderated Panel Q&A

11:45 – Lunch

12:45 – Session 2: Genetic Interactions, Penetrance and Human Disease
Discussion moderator: Stephen Scherer, CIFAR Senior Fellow, McLaughlin Centre for Molecular Medicine, University of Toronto

• Jason Moffat, CIFAR Senior Fellow, University of Toronto
• Adam Shlien, Hospital for Sick Children
• Shamil Sunyaev, Harvard Medical School

1:30 – Moderated Panel Q&A

2:15 – Coffee Break

2:45 – Session 3: Disruptive Technologies
Discussion moderator: Hu Li, Mayo Clinic

• Chad Myers, CIFAR Fellow University of Minnesota
• Jennifer Listgarten, University of California, Berkeley
• Prashant Mali, University of California San Diego

3:30 – Moderated Panel Q&A

4:15 – Discussion and Synthesis of Day 1

5:00 – Reception at JLABS, MaRS

JUNE 5, 2018

8:00 – Breakfast

8:30 – Welcome, Stage Setting for Day 2

9:00 – Session 4: Natural Variation and Population Genetics
Discussion moderator: Philip Awadalla, Director, Computational Biology, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research

• Nancy Cox, Vanderbilt University
• Frederick Roth, University of Toronto

9:40 – Moderated Panel Q&A

10:25 – Coffee Break

10:55 – Session 5: Breaking Down Silos Between Academia, Industry and The Clinic – Model Systems To Human Populations
Discussion moderator: Andrew Hessel, Humane Genomics Inc.

• Calum MacRae, Harvard University
• Amit Deshwar, DeepGenomics
• Marc Fiume, DNAStack

11:40 – Moderated Panel Q&A

12:20 – Discussion and Synthesis of Day 2
Concluding Remarks


Event Report


George Church, Harvard University - Personalizing Your Genome

  • Human genome sequencing has provided us with an opportunity to understand which genetic variants affect disease risk and how genes affect an individual’s response to drugs.
  • Since 2005, the Personal Genome Project (PGP) has provided the world’s only open-access information on human genomic, environmental and trait data, paving the way for precision medicine.
  • In the past two decades, the cost to sequence a human genome has dropped from $3 billion to roughly $1000 and could drop to $100 per genome in the next five years. This cost reduction is crucial to increasing participation in projects such as the PGP and in turn increasing data to enhance the predictive power of interpreting the human genome.
  • There is still resistance by the public to get their genomes sequenced. Financially incentivizing the public to get their genome sequenced could be a mechanism to gain power from numbers.

Read the full report

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