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The second international genomic medicine conference (2nd IGMC, 2013): brief report and outcome

Introduction

Centre of Excellence in Genomic Medicine Research (CEGMR, at King Abdulaziz University (KAU) [1], is a leading centre in the field of medical genomics research in the Western province of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It was founded in 2007 with the aim of addressing important health concerns nationally and internationally. One approach the CEGMR implemented to help achieve this aim was to host an annual international conference. An initiative considered to be an excellent opportunity to interact with the international science community, discuss and exchange ideas, and set up collaboration through networking. In November 2012 at KAU, CEGMR represented by its Director (Professor Mohammed Al-Qahtani), Deputy Directors (Professor Adel Abuzenadah and Dr Adeel Chaudhary), the supervisor of the continuing education and postgraduate studies (Professor Mamdooh Gari), and all research and technical staff organized its first International Genomic Medicine Conference (1st IGMC). In November 2013, CEGMR continued its leading role in genomics and organized its 2nd IGMC. The conference was well received and attended by 505 international and national participants. Among the international participants was Professor Erwin Neher, a Nobel laureate with Bert Sakmann in 1991 in Physiology or Medicine, who gave the keynote talk on the first day of the conference on his discovery of “The function of single ion channels in cells” with notes on their function and role in disease. His presence and talk was an excellent opportunity for junior and senior national researchers in Saudi Arabia to meet and learn from a scientific pioneer.

The 2nd IGMC scientific committee led by Dr Muhammad Abu-Elmagd worked tirelessly hard and managed, for the first time ever for the conference, to publish 98 IGMC abstracts and more than 24 peer-reviewed full articles in two separate special supplements in a high impact factor (IF) journal in the field, the BMC Genomics (IF: 4.04) [2]. These two supplements mark an unprecedented success for the CEGMR and the IGMC.

Summary of the oral presentations

Oral presentation sessions started with a talk given by Dr Abdulaziz Al-Swailem from KCAST who elaborated on Saudi national science, technology and innovation plans towards knowledge based economy. After Dr Al-Swailem’s presentation, the conference participants enjoyed attending a series of 17 two days excellent talks presented by Thomson Reuters’s ranked highly distinguished scientists who came from various institutions around the globe to deliver presentations in different topics. The latter mainly covered five genomics and genomic-related areas including oncogenomics, genomics and environment interactions, systems biology and computational genomics, immunogenomics, and omics of cell signalling and reproductive biology (2nd IGMC program, Table 1). The conference was also a good opportunity for both junior and senior speakers from Saudi Arabia to deliver 10 excellent presentations. These speakers were from academic, health and research institutions in different regions of Saudi Arabia. The organising committee also gave the chance to the industrial sector to give a talk and this was delivered by Life Technologies representative Dr. Barry Merriman. Abstracts of all oral presentations are now published in BMC Genomics special supplement [2].

Table 1 The 2nd IGMC program

Peer-reviewed articles

Among all abstracts submitted to the 2nd IGMC, 32 were selected by the conference scientific committee to be re-submitted as full articles. All authors who were invited to submit their work as full articles responded positively. These articles were sent to a carefully-selected high calibre international and national scientists in the field for reviewing. BMC Genomics editorial board accepted 23 out of the 32 articles which included 17 research papers and 6 reviews. All articles have undergone the BMC journal's standard peer review process for supplements.

Poster presentations

The second IGMC allocated three poster sessions during which 73 posters covering different aspects of genomics were presented. The Director of the CEGMR Dr Mohammed Al-Qahtani announced the winners of the best posters presented during the conference. The first winner was Mrs Manal Al-Otaibi who presented a poster titled ''Sunitinib effectively reduces clonogenic acute myeloid leukemia cells in vitro'', the second winner was Mrs Shilu Mathew who presented a poster titled ''Identification of frequent MTNR1B methylation in breast cancer following the application of high-throughput methylome analysis'' and finally the third winner was Mr. Nasser Elthawary who presented a poster titled: ''Azoospermia factor microdeletions: common tag STSs in infertile men with azoospermia and severe oligospermia from Egypt''.

Professor Erwin Neher remarks on the second IGMC

The 2nd IGMC had the privilege of hosting Professor Erwin Neher who delivered an inspiring talk about his discovery of the patch clamp techniques. Professor Neher was asked by the organizing committee to write some comments about his impression of the 2nd IGMC. The following is what he wrote:

''Genomics is not my field of research. As a scientist, working on cellular function, I observe, of course, progress in sequencing technology and read about many of the insights, which emerge from the huge data sets now available through deep sequencing. However, participating in a meeting dedicated to the medical applications of these new technologies is another type of experience. One could feel the spirit of optimism regarding new therapies for cancer, congenital diseases, and autoimmune disorders. One could listen to brilliant accounts, delivered by international leaders in the respective fields. One could find out details on the latest technology in the exhibitions and speak with the developers of sequencing technology – who, to my delight, were very interested in the patch clamp technique. All this happened in a lush congress centre, offering all the services and amenities, which turn a conference into a pleasant experience. Last not least we had the privilege to enjoy the generous hospitality of our Saudi hosts. This culminated in a memorable visit at night to the estate of Professor Mohammed Al-Qahtani, The Director of Centre of Excellence in Genomics Medicine Research (CEGMR), where we not only enjoyed tasty and spicy Saudi food, but also had a chance to inspect his remarkable facility for keeping desert wildlife.''

Disclosures

The authors disclose no competing interests.

Abbreviations

APC:

Adenomatous Polyposis Coli

BMC:

BioMed Central

CEGMR:

Center of Excellence in Genomic Medicine Research

ChIP-Seq:

Chromatin Immuno-precipitation Sequencing

CIPM:

Centre of Innovation in Personalized Medicine

CMV:

Cytomegalovirus

CRC:

Colorectal Cancer

ENCODE:

Encyclopedia of DNA Elements

IF:

Impact Factor

IGB:

Integrated Gulf Biosystem

IGMC:

International Genomic Medicine Conference

KAU:

King Abdulaziz University

KACST:

King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology

KIFs:

Kinesin superfamily proteins

Kras:

Kirsten rat sarcoma viral oncogene homolog

KSA:

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

MOH:

Ministry Of Higher Education

MTNR1B:

Melatonin Receptor 1B

STSs:

Sequence-Tagged Sites

References

  1. 1.

    Centre of Excellence in Genomic Medicine Research, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. [http://cegmr.kau.edu.sa/Default.aspx?Site_ID=117&Lng=EN]

  2. 2.

    Abstracts from the 2nd International Genomic Medicine Conference (2nd IGMC). BMC Genomics. 2013, 15 (Supplement 2): [http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcgenomics/supplements/15/S2]

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Acknowledgment

We would like to warmly thank the Ministry Of Higher Education (MOH) and King Abdulaziz University for their help and support in making this event successful. We would also like to thank all delegates who made this conference a very valuable event by their excellent contribution. A special thanks are due to all national and international referees who helped in producing high standard of reviewing reports for the submitted articles. We would like to thank the following companies and organisations who financially supported the event: Naizak Global Engineering Systems, Integrated Gulf Biosystem (IGB), KAU Research Endowment Fund, Cigalah Group, Abdulla Fouad Holding Co., Abbott Laboratories, and Bioscience Innovation. CEGMR administration committee members would like to thank all members of the 2nd IGMC organisation and scientific committees for their sincere effort and commitment in making this conference a successful and remarkable event. MEA would like to thank KACST for funding his research with the following Projects’ Codes: Proposal-13-MED2181-03, Proposal-13-BIO789-03 and 13-CIPM-01.

Declarations

Publication charges for this article were funded by the Centre of Excellence in Genomic Medicine Research, King Abdulaziz University, Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

This article has been published as part of BMC Medical Genomics Volume 8 Supplement 1, 2015: Selected articles from the 2nd International Genomic Medical Conference (IGMC 2013): Medical Genomics. The full contents of the supplement are available online at http://www.biomedcentral.com/bmcmedgenomics/supplements/8/S1

Author information

Correspondence to Muhammad M Abu-Elmagd.

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