The Australian Polygenic Risk Symposium, 2019

Our confirmed speakers include:

Krista Fischer (PhD) is the Professor of Mathematical Statistics at the Institute of Mathematics and Statistics, University of Tartu, Estonia and also Senior Researcher in biostatistics and head of the biostatistics group at the Estonian Genome Center, Institute of Genomics, University of Tartu, Estonia. She has a PhD in mathematical statistics (University of Tartu, Estonia, 1999) and her past affiliations include University of Ghent, Belgium (1999-2001, postdoctoral researcher), Faculty of Medicine, University of Tartu (Associate Professor 2001-2007), MRC Biostatistics Unit, Cambridge, UK (Investigator/Scientist 2007-2010). Her main research interests include polygenic prediction of complex disease risk, survival analysis involving –omics data, causal inference in genetic epidemiology, complex models involving multi-omics data, etc. She is involved in various research projects at the Estonian Genome Center as well at the international consortia. She has authored or co-authored more than 100 research papers in peer-reviewed journals. Krista Fischer is a member of the Executive Board of the International Biometric Society and was the president of the Nordic-Baltic Region of the International Biometric Society in 2013-2016.

Cathryn Lewis is Professor of Genetic Epidemiology & Statistics at King’s College London, and head of department at the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre (Sept 2019). Her academic training is in statistics, and she has been analysing genetic studies since her PhD. She co-chairs the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium Major Depressive Disorder Working group, and leads the NIHR Maudsley BRC Biomarkers and Genomics theme. Her multi-disciplinary research group identifies and characterises genetic variants associated with human disease, including depression, schizophrenia, and stroke. A major research focus is risk assessment, determining how the polygenic component of mental health disorders can be measured accurately and communicated effectively.

Professor Naomi Wray is an Australian National Health & Medical Research Council Principal Research Fellow and Fellow of the Australian Academy of Science. She holds joint Professorial positions between the Institute for Molecular Bioscience and Queensland Brain Institute at The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia. Her research intersects quantitative genetics, statistical methodology and disorders of the brain. Polygenic risk prediction has been a key theme of her research since 2007 building on methodology from her early training in livestock genetics.

Assoc Prof Paul A James is a Clinical Geneticist from Melbourne. He is the director of the Parkville Familial Cancer Centre (Royal Melbourne Hospital and Peter MacCallum Cancer Centre) and Head of Clinical Genetics in the Department of Genomic Medicine (RMH). He leads a program of clinical research including discovery and translational projects emphasising familial cancer and the genetics of inherited cardiac disorders, and is a group leader in Familial Cancer research at Peter MacCallum.

Assoc Prof Michael Inouye grew up in the Seattle area before beginning undergraduate study in 1999 at the University of Washington, where he later graduated with BSc's in biochemistry and economics. As a 19 year-old freshman, Mike began analyzing data from the initial draft Human Genome, spending several years doing research in gene finding and protein structure prediction. He continued studying protein structure as a graduate student at UCLA, but returned to genomics in 2005 when he moved to the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in Cambridge, UK. While at Sanger, Mike completed his PhD with Prof Leena Peltonen and Prof Gert-Jan van Ommen and was heavily involved in the first wave of genome-wide association studies, especially the statistical methods thereof. He also led large-scale studies to integrate multi-omic data, and identified a gene co-expression network related to the innate immune response and associated with diverse metabolic traits. During his postdoctoral fellowship at the Walter and Eliza Hall Institute in Melbourne, Mike continued to apply his genomic expertise to problems in immunology. In 2012, he was recruited to the faculty at the University of Melbourne where he built a research program in systems genomics with particular focus on clinical and public health problems. In 2017, Mike was recruited to the Baker Institute and the University of Cambridge to set up a transnational lab that focuses on core areas of systems genomics, including polygenic risk scores, integrated analysis of multi-omics data and development of analytic tools. He is an investigator at Health Data Research UK, the national institute for data science in healthcare, as well as a Turing Fellow at the Alan Turing Institute, the UK's national institute for data science and artificial intelligence.

Associate Professor Anne Cust is a NHMRC Career Development Fellow and epidemiologist leading the Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research Group based at The University of Sydney School of Public Health. She is also President of the Australasian Epidemiological Association (AEA), and a Faculty member of the Melanoma Institute Australia, where she leads the ‘Prevention, Risk and Detection of Melanoma’ Research Theme. Her research focuses mainly on melanoma prevention and early detection, with a strong emphasis on translational outcomes.

Nick Kirwan, Senior Policy Manager, Life Insurance. In his role, among other things Nick leads the policy work on the FSC Life Code of Practice and other matters relating to life insurance. Nick has spent his career in financial services, both in industry and public policy.  He spent many years in senior industry roles in the UK before spending 8 years as the policy lead for life insurance at the Association of British Insurers, and then 2 years at the ILC-UK, a Westminster based think-tank advising the UK Government on public policy matters relating to demographic change. In 2014, Nick moved to Australia, spending over 2 years in senior industry roles before taking up his current role at the FSC in 2017.  He recently took the policy lead in developing the Moratorium on genetic testing in life insurance.

Kate Dunlop is the Director of the Centre for Genetics Education, a state-wide program of the NSW Ministry of Health that provides education programs, courses and information resources for patients, the community and health professionals. The Centre’s current focus is on assisting health professionals to manage the impact of genetic and genomic technologies on their practice. Kate has wide experience in education and public health, and is undertaking ‘Implementation research in risk-stratified cancer screening in Australia’ as part of her PhD in the Cancer Epidemiology and Prevention Research Group, Sydney School of Public Health, Sydney University.

Jon Emery is the Herman Professor of Primary Care Cancer Research at the University of Melbourne and the Primary Care Research and Education Lead at the Victorian Comprehensive Cancer Centre. He is an NHMRC Practitioner Fellow, Director of the Cancer Australia Primary Care Collaborative Cancer Clinical Trials Group (PC4), and a Visiting Research Fellow at the Department of Public Health and Primary Care, University of Cambridge.  His research program focuses on cancer risk assessment and early diagnosis, and trials of complex interventions to improve cancer care in general practice.

Tatiane Yanes is a genetic counsellor who has previously worked at Genetic Health Queensland and the Clinical Genomics Unit, St Vincent’s Hospital. She recently completed a PhD at the University of New South Wales, where she investigated the psychological and behavioural responses of women who received breast cancer polygenic risk scores. Tatiane is now a postdoctoral research fellow at the Diamantina Institute, University of Queensland and is involved in various projects to assess translation of PRS.

Professor Dale Nyholt is a human geneticist expert in the statistical analysis of common complex traits. His laboratory studies the role of genetics in the development and mechanism of human traits, with particular emphasis on migraine, and the specific goal of identifying genetic risk factors and detecting common genetic links with other disorders, including depression, endometriosis and epilepsy. His research will provide a deeper understanding of the aetiology of migraine and our ability to prevent and treat attacks, and facilitate the discovery of novel pathways and thus identify new targets for drug therapy.

Dr Richard Allman is Chief Scientific Officer of Genetic Technologies Ltd. Following 15 years in academic cancer research where my primary interests involved new assay/methodology development, in particular investigating the linkage between onco-genetic profile and treatment response, Dr Allman transitioned to the biotechnology sector with a focus on translating academic research to viable commercial products. This has included the strategic design and management of the first commercially available cancer risk assessment tests (breast and colorectal) to include a polygenic risk score. A key part of the successful commercialization process is the establishment of productive collaborations with academic thought leaders, in particular with researchers at The University of Melbourne, where he holds an honorary Senior Fellowship.

Dr Tamsin Eades is a founding member of the Emerging Applications market development team within Illumina, where her role is to facilitate the use of genomics in novel and nascent applications.  Tamsin has experience in a variety of roles in industry over the past 12 years at both Illumina and Applied Biosystems. Prior to this Tamsin completed a PhD and Postdoctoral Studies in human genetics at the Sanger Institute, UK.