NSU Winter School on Genetic Epidemiology Ends

NSU conducted the 2019 Winter School “Introduction to Multifactorial Disease Genomics” in cooperation with the Institute of Cytology and Genetics SB RAS, and the Usher Institute of Population Health Sciences and Informatics (University of Edinburgh, UK). The NSU Laboratory of Theoretical and Applied Functional Genomics (“Synthetic Biology” Strategic Academic Unity at the NSU Department of Natural Sciences) organized the school that was attended by undergraduates, graduate students and young researchers from Moscow, Irkutsk, Novosibirsk, and Kazakhstan. This year, School participants were able to not only listen to lectures on the genetics of complex human traits, but also take part in practical exercises, and prepare reports on the most relevant current topics.

James Wilson, a Professor at the University of Edinburgh, gave his impressions of the School,

I was surprised and impressed by the participant’s level of training. They not only had an excellent level of proficiency in English, but also a good knowledge base in the field of genetics, statistics, and programming. It seems to me that today international cooperation is an integral part of the scientific process. When I was young, a large number of scientists came to our university with lectures and practical courses. This allowed me, as an interested student, to gain knowledge and increased my motivation to learn. This is especially important for Novosibirsk, which, unlike Moscow, is far away. This geographical distance creates certain difficulties for foreign scientists. It is great that NSU has the opportunity to organize and conduct these courses and invite foreign experts.

During the five days of the Winter School, participants studied the genetics of complex human traits including the basics of genome organization, the basics of heritability, population genetics, basic principles of epidemiology and their use in genetic epidemiology, and a whole genome association study.

Ekaterina Kamanova, first-year student at the NSU Department of Natural Sciences, talked about her participation in the School,

What we studied here was new to me. The experience that our foreign colleagues gave us was unique because the lectures we attended at the School are not often accessible to the public. We studied how individual nucleotides can be associated with individual diseases, how to identify this association, and how to measure the effect of mutations.

This is the second time the Winter School was conducted in this format. According to the organizers, this year more than half of the participants were visitors. Each received a certificate of completion for the courses that will be an important addition to these young scientists’ resumes.

Yuri Aulchenko, organizer of the Winter School and Head of the NSU Laboratory of Theoretical and Applied Functional Genomics, discussed the program,

We want to disseminate knowledge about human genetics not only to biology students and doctors from other cities and countries, but also to a wide range of people interested in this subject, regardless of their specialty. Traditionally, there are mathematicians and physicists at the School who are interested in biology and medicine. In addition, representatives of companies that are engaged in genetic development and doctors attend the School. All these participants get a fundamental understanding of not only the possibilities of genome technologies, but also their limitations in relation to medicine and health care.