JAX, EWHA Womans University to host joint international symposium on genomic medicine Oct. 2

Seoul, South Korea – Six senior officials and scientists from The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) will visit EWHA Womans University in Seoul for an International Joint Symposium on Genomic Medicine on Oct. 2.

JAX and EWHA Womans University intend to develop cooperative initiatives in genomics-based medical research. With the emergence of precision medicine, highlighted in U.S. President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union speech, researchers are taking an innovative approach to disease prevention and treatment based on each patient’s unique genetic makeup, rather than “one-size-fits-all” population averages.

The symposium, featuring JAX President and CEO Edison Liu, M.D., and Charles Lee, Ph.D., the Korean-born scientific director of JAX Genomic Medicine, is the first joint initiative for the two institutions.

“The International Joint Symposium on Genomic Medicine represents a historic event,” says Dr. Lee, “whereby East meets West to forge a new cooperation in genomic medicine research.”

Also attending the symposium from JAX will be George Weinstock, Ph.D., director of microbial genetics and Evnin Family Chair; Yijun Ruan, Ph.D., director of genomic sciences; Laura G. Reinholdt, Ph.D., senior research scientist and co-director of Genetic Resource Sciences; and Ewelina Bolcun-Filas, Ph.D., a principal investigator.

In addition to the JAX scientists, several top Korean medical research scientists will join the International Joint Symposium as speakers: Prof. Jong-il Kim (Seoul National University), Prof. Goo Taeg Oh, Prof. Sanghyuk Lee, Prof. Duk-Hee Kang (Ewha Womans University) and Prof. Daehee Hwang (Daegu Gyeongbuk Institute of Science and Technology).

JAX is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution and National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center. JAX employs 1,700 staff, and its mission is to discover precise genomic solutions for disease and empower the global biomedical community in the shared quest to improve human health.

With headquarters in Bar Harbor, Maine, JAX has facilities in Sacramento, Calif., and Ellsworth, Maine, as well as JAX Genomic Medicine in Farmington, Conn., which opened in October 2014. Institutional collaborative partners include Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston and the University of California, Davis. The institution’s international presence is also growing, with labs and collaborations in South Korea and Australia.

Founded in 1929, the Laboratory applies its eight decades of expertise in genetics to increase understanding of human disease, advancing treatments and cures for cancer, neurological and immune disorders, diabetes, aging and heart disease. It models and interprets genomic complexity, integrates basic research with clinical application, educates current and future scientists, and empowers the global biomedical community by providing critical data, tools and services. The Laboratory is the world's source for more than 8,000 strains of genetically defined mice, is home of the Mouse Genome Informatics and Mouse Phenome databases, and is a hub for scientific courses, conferences, training and education.

EWHA Womans University is a private women’s university in Seoul, South Korea, founded in 1886 as the first modern educational institute for Korean women. Today, with about 20,000 undergraduate and graduate students, it is the world's largest female educational institute and is one of the most prestigious universities in South Korea. 


Media contacts:

EWHA Womans University: Meejeong Lee, Vice President, Office of information and Communications, 82-2-3277-3871, cio@ewha.ac.k

The Jackson Laboratory: Joyce Peterson, Public Relations Manager, 1-207-288-6058, joyce.peterson@jax.org

JAX speaker biographies:

Dr. Edison Liu is a world-renowned leader in cancer genomics. He was previously the founding executive director of the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) for 11 years, and served two terms as president of the Human Genome Organization (HUGO) starting in 2007. In 2009, he was the lead author of a study on the migration of Asian people with 93 other scientists from Korea, Singapore and China in Science, one of the world’s top scientific journals.

Dr. Charles Lee is a distinguished biomedical scientist who first discovered widespread structural variation in the human genome in 2004, also known as “Copy Number Variation.” He has published over 140 papers in world-renowned journals including Nature, Cell and Science, and has contributed to the biomedical science field by developing novel diagnostic methods. He was a previously a professor at Harvard Medical School, and is now an endowed professor at Ewha Womans University. In 2008, he won the Ho-Am Prize in medicine and was predicted as a candidate for the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2014 by Thompson Reuters.

Dr. George Weinstock is a distinguished scientist and a leader of the Human Microbiome Project, an international effort funded by National Institute of Health in the US.  This project aims to analyze the complete genomic profile of the over 10 trillion microbes in our body.  It is often called the “second genome” because of perceived importance in human health. Novel research strategies to study the etiology of bowel disease, allergy disease, diabetes and cancer involve analyses of the microbiome. Dr. Weinstock is the director for microbial genomics at The Jackson Laboratory.

Dr. Yijun Ruan is a renowned scientist in genome research and most famous for his analysis of the human genome in three-dimensional structures. He was previously an associate director and senior group leader at the Genome Institute of Singapore and professor of biochemistry at the National University of Singapore. He is currently an investigator with the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements (ENCODE) project, an international consortium of research groups funded by the National Human Genome Research Institute. The analysis of the three dimensional structure of the human genome is important for stem cell and cancer research associated with gene expression regulation.

Dr. Laura G. Reinholdt is a senior research scientist at The Jackson Laboratory and is co-director of Genetic Resource Sciences. Her research interests are in the development and application of genetic and genomic approaches for understanding genome variation in health and disease. As the lead scientist on several large mouse model development programs, including the Mouse Mutant Regional Resource Center, she has expertise in the development and credentialing of mouse models for human disease. She is recognized for her pioneering efforts to use high throughput sequencing to identify causative mutations in over 200 mouse models of Mendelian disease.

Dr. Ewelina Bolcun-Filas is a principal investigator at The Jackson Laboratory and her interest is in genetic quality control in gametes and methods for oocyte preservation after radiation exposure. In her 2014 Science paper, she showed that inactivation of CHK2 kinase can reverse infertility in one of her sterile mouse models and prevent oocyte loss in female mice exposed to radiation, raising the possibility of preserving fertility for female cancer patients. She is also seeking other targets for fertility preservation therapies in cancer patients.