Collaboration: EMBL & Stanford


By Dr. William Francis Mueller


In November 2015, we had the opportunity to present our research on NGLY1 deficiency at the first joint conference between the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and Stanford University. The meeting was on Personalized Health and took place on the EMBL campus in Heidelberg, Germany. This was particularly fun for me because our lab has one branch here at EMBL and another at Stanford. I have been lucky enough to travel to Stanford in the past, but having the conference come to me was pure luxury!

EMBL Advanced Training Centre

The meeting brought in some great speakers (some of my favorites were Lee Hood from the ISB in Seattle, Ami Bhatt from Stanford, and Ewan Birney from EMBL-EBI) and raised many interesting points, ranging from biosensors that monitor our health (Michael Snyder and Lars Steinmetz) to equality in sequencing (Hua Tang) all the way to finding patient specific cancer treatments (Wolfgang Huber). It was a fantastic opportunity to look into the future of biology and health care through the eyes of leading experts.

Within this forum Karen Tessmer and I presented our multi-omic analysis of NGLY1 patient cell lines and model systems. We had a lot of traffic at our posters leading to fruitful discussions. The support, questions and ideas from other conference attendees always invigorate and inspire us to take on the challenges that come with studying a rare disease. Having the chance to meet our Stanford and Grace Science collaborators was both fun and productive. Lars Steinmetz gave a talk about highlighting the teams work.

Karen's Poster

In addition to the academics at the conference, it was also very cool to talk to folks from industry who are working on rare diseases. Matt Wilsey gave an inspiring presentation about his experiences as a rare disease advocate, bringing a new aspect to a scientific meeting. We discussed our research strategy with companies like Sophia Genetics, who are working with genome and health data in Europe, and Alexion, who concentrate on rare diseases in the States. We still have a long way to go, but we have made great progress and are on the right track.

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