Ageing workshop & symposium
Posted on: 6 November 2017 by Daniel Thornton in 2017 posts
On the 26th and 27th October 2017, our lab (the Integrative Genomics of Ageing Group, led by Dr. João Pedro de Magalhães), organised a two day scientific symposium and workshop to bring together scientists researching the field of ageing.
The event was a great success, with over 70 people attending the first day, 13 of which gave highly informative talks. The second day involved 3 interactive sessions, discussing topics such as machine learning, gene expression and network analysis, and ageing datasets available in the Human Ageing Genomic Resources (HAGR). The picturesque Blackburne House, situated in Liverpool's Georgian Quarter, was chosen as the location, which provided a pleasant and interesting venue for the meeting.
Danielle Newby from the University of Oxford opened the day discussing an application of machine learning to studying ageing. Her research has included applying supervised learning to a dataset of drugs that increase lifespan, using chemical properties and gene targets of the drugs as features to predict possible new anti-ageing compounds. Helen Wright from the University of Liverpool continued the morning session, discussing work on identifying markers for predicting treatment response in patients with rheumatoid arthritis, in particular using RNA-Seq. This was followed by an intriguing talk from Felicity Lumb of the University of Strathclyde, investigating the influence on ageing and healthspan of the parasitic worm product ES-62, in the presence of a diet that models western, high fat/calorie consumption. The morning session also heard from Peter Fedichev, Co-founder of Gero based in Moscow using machine learning and metrics from wearable sensors, to model ageing and calculate wellness of an individual. Finally, I presented the HAGR web application, in particular CellAge and DrugAge resources as well as future directions.
The afternoon on day 1 began with David Gems from University College London presenting ageing theories and his work in C. elegans. He confessed that a central understanding of ageing continues to evade us after many years of research with access to NGS data, however his group's research aims to address this using C. elegans as a model to identify the genetic basis of ageing. Dervis Salih went on to discuss the MOUSEAC project, a database that records genome wide expression changes with age taken from transgenic mouse models of dementia. The afternoon also saw Mark McCauley of the University of Chester, discuss progress on developing an in silico model of cholesterol biosynthesis and the effect of ageing on the model.
A fascinated audience for the symposium
The final sessions of the first day included excellent talks from Daniel Palmer, Hagen Blankenburg (conducting network analysis on ageing gene sets), Garan Jones (analysis of UK Biobank GWAS data) and Emma Teeling. Daniel Palmer has been conducting selection experiments in Drosophila, selecting for longevity, then using RNA-seq to analyse selected Drosophila lines. Finally, Emma Teeling gave an engaging talk on her long term studies with bats. Emma has been collecting longevity data in bats for a number of years, in particular travelling frequently to Brittany to gather data on the bat Myotis myotis. Like the naked-mole rat, this species has exceptional longevity for its body size. Her work involves transcriptome analysis, to elucidate the key mechanisms in long-lived Myotis myotis bats. Results have shown enhanced DNA repair and telomerase activity in Myotis myotis compared with other bat species. See also the Bat 1K Project.
Day 2 was designed to give everyone a chance to discuss topics with the speakers and gain tips in using ageing datasets and analysis techniques. Fabio Fabris of The University of Kent delivered a great session in using machine learning for studying ageing datasets. Finally to round off an informative 2 days, João Pedro de Magalhães guided us through topics such as gene expression and network analysis as applied to ageing.