Ciliate Molecular Biology Community Members:

As you are probably aware, the 2016 Ciliate Molecular Biology meeting will be held concurrently with several other model organisms meetings.  The meeting(s)  will be sponsored by the Genetics Society of America in honor of the 100th anniversary of the society.   Time will be set aside for three joint plenary sessions for attendees of all of the model organism conferences.  I am serving as the liaison for the Ciliate Community  to organize the three cross-cutting sessions that will be separate from our model system-specific meeting agenda.  Please read the email appended below and send me your recommendations for speakers for the three sessions from the short list that our steering committee generated last week.   This should be a very exciting meeting.   I hope to see you there.

Jeff Kapler

Geoffrey Kapler, Ph.D.
Jean and Tom McMullin Professor of Genetics
Chair, Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine
Texas A&M Health Science Center
Reynolds 440
College Station, TX 77843-1114
phone: (979) 847-8690
fax: (979) 847-9481
[log in to unmask]




Dear Community Leaders of the 2016 TAGC Conference,


As Co-Chairs of the Coordinating Committee for the Genetics Society of America’s (GSA’s) 2016 Conference, we are contacting the Leader(s) of each of the communities who will be holding meetings as part of The Allied Genetics Conference (TAGC)—yeast; worm; fly; zebrafish; mouse; ciliates; population, evolutionary, and quantitative genetics—at this time to get your input on the three cross-cutting scientific sessions that will bring together the participants of all of the meetings.


These sessions are being organized by a Coordinating Committee, which we chair, and which includes representatives of each of the participating communities (roster is attached).


What we’d like to do now is to have a finalized list of 12 invited speakers (and 6 alternates) who will excite both young and established geneticists and who will give talks that will transcend the various communities who will be assembling at TAGC.  We would like to target speakers of international stature and who can engage a diverse audience of 4,000 scientists.  Importantly, although TAGC is still two years away, we need to extend invitations and obtain commitments in the near future, as we expect our solicited speakers to be highly sought-after.   


We will therefore need feedback from each of your program committees and communities by June 13.


To put briefly in context, the conference will start on Tuesday July 13, 2016, in late afternoon, with each of the 7 meetings having an opening/plenary session, followed by mixers, as would normally occur.  The posters for all the meetings will be up for the duration, in a large open ballroom that will include exhibits from vendors and various organizations.  These poster sessions will be wonderful times for active cross talk, exchange, and interactions.  The three cross-cutting sessions will get everyone together for sets of dynamic, inspiring, forward thinking talks of interest to the breadth of the conference.


On Wednesday morning (July 14th), the first joint cross-cutting session will occur.

On Friday evening (July 16th), at the mid-point of the conference, the second cross-cutting session will occur.  On Sunday (July 18th) late morning, the conference will end with the third cross-cutting session. 


As you are aware, TAGC was not designed to be a GSA-wide meeting for all constituents.  This is a jamboree of pre-existing model organism meetings, plus a new meeting in Population, Evolutionary, and Quantitative Genetics, with tremendous potential for “having our cake and eating it too” (i.e., enjoying the community specific smaller meetings in the context of a larger cross-cutting environment).  It’s an exciting experiment that could represent a one-time event, or that could evolve into a cross-cutting conference that occurs at some frequency in the future.


The GSA Board of Directors and we Co-Chairs are very excited about the potential of this meeting and the opportunity to help foster connections across our discipline.  We are grateful that the individual communities have agreed to take a chance and engage in this ambitious experiment!  The response from trainees about the overall meeting concept has been overwhelmingly positive.  The meeting should raise awareness about the value to society of basic research and the contributions of model organisms.  As with the community-based meetings, the themes and content of TAGC should be targeted mainly at the attending trainees and younger PIs within the genetics community.  The meeting also provides a chance to make a statement (to ourselves, and to governments, funding agencies, and the general public) that basic genetics research (combining genetics, biochemistry, cell biology, evolutionary biology) is relevant (strategic) to health, environment, and industry, and will be critical for decades to come during the most exciting time in the history of science.


Because we would like to engage each GSA community to the fullest, we have been working with the TAGC Coordinating Committee (made up of representatives from participating community) and are now engaging you as we develop the Program for the cross-cutting joint sessions. 


The Coordinating Committee agreed that given the breadth of the conference, that the sessions should not focus on any individual biological theme, but rather be a set of outstanding talks in “Visionary Science” that inspire.  There was also agreement that one of the sessions should include a discussion of public policy and science and that one should emphasize forward thinking technology development.


Following from a wide-ranging discussion by the Coordinating Committee, we have placed the speakers that seemed to have the highest enthusiasm into three potential sessions – for discussion purposes.  Note the technology session could have a mix of technology and vision science talks, and the policy session could go for half a session with vision science talks after.  We need to finalize a list of 4 speakers for each session and name 2 as alternatives for each.


Technology  “Genetics technology and future insights”

·         George Church (Harvard) – new technologies for genomic and proteomic measurement, synthesis, and modeling including personal genomics and biofuels

·         Jennifer Doudna (UC Berkeley) – molecular mechanisms of RNA-mediated gene regulation

·         Joe Ecker (Salk Institute) – epigenetic inheritance and DNA methylation in Arabidopsis, mice, human stem cells

·         Susan Lindquist (Whitehead/MIT) – mechanisms of protein folding and misfolding; prions, cancer, neurodegenerative diseases

·         Harmit Malik (Fred Hutchinson) – evolution of genetic conflict in Drosophila, primates, and yeast; centromere evolution, mobile genetics elements, innate and intrinsic immunity

·         Svante Pääbo (Max Planck) – paleogenetics; Neanderthal genomics

·         Norbert Perrimon (Harvard) – cellular response to extracellular signals; homeostasis; tissue regeneration

·         Stephen Quake (Stanford) – lab-on-a-chip; single molecule biophysics

·         David Reich (Harvard) – population and medical genetics, including Neanderthal and human evolution



Development/Evolution  “Vision Science or Genetic Horizons"

·         Cori Bargmann (Rockefeller) – nervous systems development in C. elegans

·         Andrew Clark (Cornell) – population genetics and genomics in multiple systems

·         Jeff Gordon (Washington Univ) – microbiome

·         Rudy Jaenisch (Whitehead/MIT) – epigenetic regulation of gene expression; embryonic stem cells and iPS cells

·         Cynthia Kenyon (UCSF; Calico/Google) – aging and lifespan in C. elegans and human cells

·         David Kingsley (Stanford) – molecular basis of vertebrate evolution; stickleback fish, evolution/genetic traits

·         Doug Melton (Harvard) – developmental biology of the pancreas; embryonic stem cells and iPS cells

·         Joe Takahashi (UT Southwestern) – sleep, circadian rhythms in mice

·         Leonard Zon (Harvard) – zebrafish models of human diseases, hematopoietic stem cells


Policy    “Role of Science in Society"

·         Tom Cech (Colorado) – former HHMI President

·         Francis Collins (NIH) – Director of NIH, but likely at end of term in 2016

·         Bob Horvitz (MIT)

·         Eric Lander (Broad/MIT) – science leadership at the federal level

·         Geoffrey Ling (DARPA) – founding director of DARPA Biological Technologies Office

·         Shirley Tilghman (Princeton) – science, education, policy

·         Wendy Schmidt (Schmidt Family Foundation) – philanthropist supporting environmental and sustainability issues

·         Lucy Shapiro (Stanford) – potential chair


Can you please share these documents with any other members of your community meeting organizing committee and let us know about your feedback?   Please make any comments you wish, endorse specific speakers or add some new ones, and suggest any specific sets of 4 speakers (with alternatives) that you feel would combine to make three outstanding sessions.  Of course, we expect that all will be fantastic speakers who represent the best in our field.


We are happy to answer any questions you might have.  Identifying and inviting speakers is only the first of several responsibilities we will have towards the 2016 Conference.  We will be back in touch with you regarding other aspects of the meeting, but for now ask that you focus on the cross-cutting sessions.  We look forward to working with you and hearing your feedback.




Phil Hieter & Jeannie T. Lee


TAGC Coordinating Committee

Genetics Society of America


TAGC Coordinating Committee  

 The Allied Genetics Conference 

Coordinating Committee 


Phil Hieter, PhD (website) 

Professor of Medical Genetics 

Michael Smith Laboratories 

University of British Columbia 

T: 604-822-5115 

[log in to unmask] 

Jeannie T. Lee, MD, PhD (website) 

HHMI Investigator 

Professor of Genetics and Pathology, Harvard Medical School 

Molecular Biologist, Massachusetts General Hospital 

T: 617-643-3043 

[log in to unmask] 


C. elegans 

Paul W. Sternberg, PhD (website) 

HHMI Investigator 

Thomas Hunt Morgan Professor of Biology 

California Institute of Technology 

T: 626-395-2181 

[log in to unmask] 


Geoffrey Kapler, PhD (website) 

Jean and Tom McMullin Professor of Genetics 

Chair, Department of Molecular and Cellular Medicine 

Texas A&M Health Science Center 

T: 979-847-8690 

[log in to unmask] 


Susan Celniker, PhD (website) 

Head, Department of Genome Dynamics 

Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory 

T: 510-486-6208 

[log in to unmask] 


John C. Schimenti, PhD (website) 

James Law Professor of Genetics 

Director, Center for Vertebrate Genomics 

Cornell University 

T: 607-253-3636 

[log in to unmask] 

Population, Evolutionary, & Quantitative Genetics 

Michael Lynch, PhD (website) 

Distinguished Professor of Biology and Class of 1954 Professor 

Department of Biology 

Indiana University 

T: 812-855-7384 

[log in to unmask] Genetics Society of America TAGC Coordinating Committee 2 


Michael Snyder, PhD (website) 

Stanford W. Ascherman Professor in Genetics 

Chair, Department of Genetics 

Director, Center for Genomics & Personalized Medicine 

Stanford University 

T: 650-723-4668 

[log in to unmask] 


Rebecca D. Burdine, PhD (website) 

Associate Professor of Molecular Biology 

Princeton University 

T: 609-258-7515 

[log in to unmask] 

Trainee Representative 

Kathleen Dumas, PhD 

Glenn Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow 

The Buck Institute for Research on Aging 

[log in to unmask] 


Genetics Society of America 

9650 Rockville Pike 

Bethesda, MD 20814-3998 

Suzy Brown 

Senior Director of Meetings 

T: 301-634-7341 

[log in to unmask] 

Anne Marie Mahoney 

Senior Director of Meetings 

T: 301-634-7039 

[log in to unmask] 

Adam P. Fagen, PhD 

Executive Director 

T: 301-634-7301 

[log in to unmask]