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Yale Holds Successful Second Annual Single Cell Symposium

November 17, 2022
by Isabella Backman

The School of Medicine hosted its second annual Yale Single Cell Symposium at the Mary S. Harkness Auditorium on October 28. Featuring over 20 speakers, including keynote speakers Rong Fan, PhD, professor of biomedical engineering and pathology, and John Tsang, PhD, professor of immunobiology and director of computational systems biology, and hosting over 200 attendees, it was an opportunity for students, post docs, and faculty alike to gather together and foster connections.

“Single cell research is an exciting and emerging field,” said Amy Zhao, a fifth year MD-PhD student and one of the lead organizers. “We hoped to facilitate building a community for single-cell research within Yale.”

The symposium opened with a welcome address from Anthony Koleske, PhD, Ensign Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry and of neuroscience, and deputy dean for research (basic science). “The purpose of this symposium is to offer a platform for trainees to present their cutting-edge research in the field of single cell omics and to excite the Yale and greater academic community about single-cell research,” he said. “This symposium hopefully will also serve as an excellent networking opportunity among faculty and trainees interested in this field.”

Following Koleske’s welcome was a keynote talk by Fang, whose pioneering work seeks to transform how conditions such as cancer and autoimmune disease are diagnosed and treated. He spoke about how spatial multi-omics sequencing is driving the next wave of biology revolution. The symposium held a second keynote talk in the afternoon by the recently recruited Tsang, who studies why individuals show such diverse immune response to infections, vaccinations, and diseases. His lab aims to find ways to predict the complex human immune responses and measure immune health through developing new tools and technologies. It also hopes to learn more about the biological role of single cell gene expression variation. His soon-to-be-launched Center for Systems Engineering and Immunology (CSEI) will tackle some of these challenges through promoting a quantitative, predictive understanding of the human immune system.

The symposium included a faculty roundtable and industry talk including Kristen Brennand, PhD, Elizabeth Mears and House Jameson Professor of Psychiatry; Naftali Kaminski, MD, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, Inc. Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary); Xiting Yan, PhD, assistant professor of pulmonary and biostatistics; and Sam Raredon, MD, PhD, postdoctoral fellow in anesthesiology, internal medicine, and immunology. The group offered their unique perspectives on how to dive into the blossoming field.

In addition to faculty presentations, students and budding single cell researchers had the opportunity to present their research to the community throughout the day. The talks emphasized the vast applications of single cell research, from brain disease to pancreatic cancer.

The symposium was in part made possible through sponsors that included Boehringer Ingelheim, 10x Genomics, and BioLegend and Parse Biosciences.

“I found [this year’s symposium] most invigorating,” says Koleske. “I am already looking forward to next year.”

The symposium organizers comprised of Yale Center for Biomedical Data Science leadership (Dr. Katie Zhu, Leslie Dawkins, and Sharon Eligio) and the Yale Single-Cell Trainee Committee (chair Amy Zhao and co-chairs Dr. Mario Skarica, Ryland Mortlock, and Daniel Jovin).

Submitted by Isabella Backman on November 17, 2022