Keynote Talks:

Nöthen, Markus

© M. Nöthen

Prof. Dr. Markus Nöthen, Head of Institute of Human Genetics at University Hospital of Bonn


Following his medical undergraduate studies, Markus Nöthen specialized in human genetics. He completed his training in human genetics at the University Hospital of Bonn, where he established a working group on the genetics of psychiatric disorders. From 2001-2003, he was Professor of Medical Genetics and Head of the Center for Medical Genetics at the University Hospital of Antwerp. In 2004, he returned to the University Hospital of Bonn as Professor of Genetic Medicine and founding director of the Department of Genomics of the Life & Brain research center. From 2008, he was appointed Director of the Bonn Institute of Human Genetics.

The central focus of his research is the genetic basis of disease, in particular the analysis of multifactorial disorders. This involves the application of state-of-the-art molecular genetic methods for the generation and analysis of data. Recently, special attention has been paid to the integration of further omics and data levels, and the translation of genetic knowledge into medical practice.

Stevens, Bjorn

© Stevens, MPI-M

Prof. Dr. Bjorn Stevens, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg
Managing Director and Director of the Department The Atmosphere in the Earth System

Professor Bjorn Stevens is Managing Director and Director of the Department
The Atmosphere in the Earth System at Max Planck Institute for Meteorology in Hamburg.
Professor Stevens is interested in how atmospheric water vapor, and clouds, shape climate — globally and regionally. His contributions to understanding how turbulent mixing and cloud microphysical processes influence cloud amount have been instrumental in quantifying how clouds respond to warming, and how radiative forcing responds to aerosol perturbations. His research has identified different ways in which clouds organize themselves, how varied processes — such as precipitation, air sea interaction, and radiative cooling — influence this organization, and how clouds couple to larger-scale circulation
systems to help determine the pattern of climate change. These interests have led him to develop new observational techniques and to expand the frontiers of simulation science.

Van Steen, Kristel

© Van Steen

Prof. Dr. Dr. Kristel Van Steen, Leader of BIO3 group at CME - Center for Human Genetics, KU Leuven and GIGA-R, Medical Genomics - BIO3, Université de Liège

I am an interdisciplinary senior scientist, professor, who founded and is leading the BIO3 group, a medium-sized interdisciplinary research group of between 3-10 researchers on average per year, based at the University of Liège (ULg) and at the University of Leuven (KU Leuven), both in Belgium. Being a full-time Professor at ULg, most of my research is part of the academic research center GIGA (Interdisciplinary Group of Applied Proteomics), where I have been the Director of GIGA-Research Systems Biology and Chemical Biology (2014-2016) and of Medical Genomics (2016-2018). In addition, I am a part-time Professor at KU Leuven, where I coordinate a consortium with over 20 European-based international top research institutes and companies on Precision Medicine at the Interface of Translational Science and Systems Medicine (https://h2020transys.eu). Furthermore, I hold guest professorships or positions at several other institutes. My mission is to design new statistical and bioinformatics methods whenever needed and to advance precision medicine or public health. 
During my curriculum, I have gained expertise in several areas, including in three BIOs, biostatistics, biomedicine and bioinformatics, Quality-of-Life data integration in clinical trials protocols and Quality-of-Life data analysis at the E.O.R.T.C. headquarters in Brussels, Belgium. In addition, my training at the Harvard School of Public Health included work in statistical genetics, comprising family-based association testing. This seeded my current activities in systems genetics and systems medicine. During that time, I also acquired Biotechnology Project Management skills via the Harvard Extension School and the Massachusetts Biotechnology Council.   
My built-up expertise in the three BIOs allows me to cover the areas of data mining and machine learning, parametric, semi-and non-parametric methods and variable selection methods, for the inference of population or personalized (molecular) networks, for patient sub-phenotyping, for the assessment of population strata, and for the purpose of investigating association, prediction and causal relationships. 
I am mostly known for research developments related to Big Data interactions, including integrative analyses that exploit network-guided knowledge in modelling and testing protocols towards Personalized Medicine. 

Haniffa, Muzlifah

© M. Haniffa

Muzlifah Haniffa is Professor of Dermatology and Immunology at Newcastle University and Associate Faculty at the Sanger Institute.

Schmidt, Harald H.H.W.

© Harald Schmidt

Prof. Dr. Harald H.H.W. Schmidt, MD PhD PharmD, Professor & Head of Department of Pharmacology & Personalised Medicine, MeHNS, Faculty of Health, Medicine & Life Science, Maastricht University 



Harald Schmidt has a double degree in Medicine and Pharmacy, worked in academic leadership positions in Germany, USA, Australia and the Netherlands, and works on translationally relevant network and systems medicine to re-define what we call "disease" from a descriptive symptom- and organ-based to a mechanism-based approach by using big data, innovative target validation, new mechanism-based diagnostics and rapid repurposing of registered drugs for new clinical applications by network pharmacology in areas of major unmet medical need. His research has been and is supported by an ERC Advanced Grant, an ERC PoC grant from which the development and commercialisation of a first-in-class neuro-protective therapy in stroke emerged. He now coordinates the H2020 project REPO-TRIAL on in-silico network pharmacology, in which he developed, validated and now clinically tests a therapy against a common and yet untreatable form of heart failure, and a therapy for resistant hypertension. He chaired two COST action networks, one, OpenMultiMed, on systems medicine in which I promoted the concept of redefining diseases by interactome modules and revise canonical pathways by signalling modules. On September 1, 2022, he kicked-off the €23m Horizon Europe platform project REPO4EU to develop and validate an organ-agnostic European drug repurposing platform. He co-founded the open science journal Network Medicine, is on the board of the Network Medicine Alliance, and co-founded Vasopharm Biotech. He is a dedicated teacher and trainer, speaker, podcaster and public science author.

Pfister, Stefan

© Pfister

Prof. Dr. med. Stefan M. Pfister, Director Preclinical Pediatric Oncology Hopp Children’s Cancer Center Heidelberg (KiTZ) Division Head “Pediatric Neurooncology”, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ), German Cancer Consortium (DKTK)
Deputy Head KiTZ Clinical Trial Unit and Brain Tumors, Department of Pediatric Oncology, Hematology and Immunology, Heidelberg University Hospital

Stefan Pfister serves as Director of the Preclinical Research Program of the new Hopp Children's Cancer Center Heidelberg, a joint venture between the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and Heidelberg University Hospital. He is heading the Division Pediatric Neurooncology at the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) since 2012. Being a pediatrician by training, Pfister received his MD from Tübingen University, and his clinical education at Mannheim and Heidelberg University Hospitals. As a physician-scientist, he completed postdoctoral fellowships with Christopher Rudd at the Dana-Faber Cancer Institute/Harvard Medical School, and with Peter Lichter at the German Cancer Research Center, Division of Molecular Genetics. Pfister's research focuses on the genetic and epigenetic characterization of childhood brain tumors by applying next-generation profiling methods, the development of faithful models and functional validation of findings, and the preclinical testing of new treatment options using these models. In all his activities, translating novel findings into a clinical context is of highest priority. For his translational neurooncology projects, Pfister received amongst others the German Cancer Award in 2012. In 2020 he became member of the National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina.

Keynote Abstracts:

Nöthen: Genomic Variation and Disease (Mon 1:30 pm)


Opening keynote lecture: Genomic Variation and Disease


Recent years have witnessed enormous progress in the study of the contribution of genomic variation to disease development. Due to technological developments, the collection of large-scale genomic data, and the performance of whole genome sequencing in order to characterize the entire genome, can now be performed with ever decreasing costs.
In the case of rare, monogenic diseases, research has now identified causative genes for the majority of disorders, and hence the elucidation of "ultra-rare" diseases is the current focus of work in the field. Here, artificial intelligence-based methods can facilitate the identification of diseases that have not yet been described in the literature. 
For multifactorial diseases, array-based genome wide association studies promote understanding of the contribution of common genetic variants, and generate insights into the underlying pathophysiological processes via the integration of functional data levels. To varying extents, multifactorial diseases also involve the contribution of rare variants. Large-scale sequencing allows the systematic identification of variants from across the entire frequency spectrum, and novel disease genes.
The talk will also address the current situation within Germany, in particular the framework in which the translation of genetic findings into medical practice is either already in place or will be realized in the future, for example via opportunities arising within the framework of the model project for genome sequencing (§ 64e SGB). 

Stevens: Taking Earth’s Temperature (Mon 6:15 pm)


Taking Earth’s Temperature


The globally averaged surface temperature is what we use to assess the state of the Earth system.  Research into global climate change is preoccupied with attempts to understand how much this temperature depends on greenhouse gasses and what their changes portend.  In this talk I will unfold this statement and in so doing describe the state of our understanding, and how Earth system models have contributed to this understanding.  The results might come as a surprise, one that hopefully gives a clearer view of boundaries of knowledge and which stimulates a more general discussion about the role of models in understanding complex systems.

Van Steen: Individual-specific networks: wonder networks or something to wonder about? (Tue 9:00 am)


Individual-specific networks: wonder networks or something to wonder about?


Network medicine uses network science to advance global, public and personalised health. Networks, consisting of nodes and edges, possibly attributed, naturally accommodate interaction, co-occurrence, or dependency between features. These features may be biomolecular or refer to microbial taxa, for example. Modules, highly connected nodes in such networks, are often used to describe phenomena at a population level (pooled samples); module summaries provide individual scores that may help in stratifying individuals into medically meaningful groups or help in prediction. 
Wouldn’t it be interesting to analyse networks as above, but for every individual? It would imply the construction of so-called individual-specific networks (ISNs). There are multiple ways of constructing such networks: using repeated measures in the brain of the same individual may lead to ISNs, as does single cell data collected for the same individual. However, some research groups, including mine, are developing ISNs from population interaction networks. In such ISNs, measurements for an individual are “connected” with weighted edges that may differ between individuals and thus may contribute to individual heterogeneity. 
Wondering about the utility of ISNs, we illustrate by example from microbiome and gene co-expression experiments how ISNs can enter as predictors in prediction models or downstream analysis in stratified medicine contexts. In addition, we show a novel analysis workflow to process time course data with ISNs and representation learning. ISNs offer a wealth of opportunities to interpret individuals. However, more work is needed to include ISNs in clinical protocols for individualised care.

Schmidt: Redefining diseases for precision diagnosis and drug repurposing (Tue 1:30 pm)


Redefining diseases for precision diagnosis and drug repurposing


We do not understand the causality of almost any human disease (except rare monogenic) and thus declare them as chronic and complex. Instead of treating causes we have to treat symptoms, which is highly ineffective. For example, of 100 patients treated for hypertension only one of them will have a benefit. One of the biggest conceptual errors in Medicine was to split up the human body organ by organ, including organ-specific research disciplines such as neuroscience, cardiovascular research, etc.. Systems Medicine overcomes this roadblock by re-integrating the human body in an evidence-based manner enabled by data science and bioinformatics. Molecular diagnostics and network pharmacology, revolutionize how we define, diagnose, treat and ideally cure diseases. Descriptive disease phenotypes are replaced by endotypes defined by causal, multi-target signaling modules that also explain respective comorbidities. These modules are distinct from classical pathways. Modules more often than not contain several fragments of several different canonical pathways. Translation for patient benefit is most rapid via drug repurposing, obviating the need for drug discovery and development. Together with machine-based decision algorithms and a much larger focus on precision prevention it is the end of medicine as we know it and the 6th Kondratiev wave. 

Haniffa: Decoding the developing human immune system (Tue 5:15 pm)


Decoding the developing human immune system


Muzlifah has used single cell multi-omics and spatial genomics to study the human immune system in health and disease. In this seminar, she will demonstrate the applications of single cell genomics to decode the developing human immune system.

Pfister: Assessing intra-tumoral heterogeneity in genetically simple tumors - what can we learn? (Wed 9:00 am)


Assessing intra-tumoral heterogeneity in genetically simple tumors - what can we learn?


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