2019 Precision Medicine Research Symposium Recap

The Englander Institute for Precision Medicine organized the “2nd Annual Precision Medicine Research Symposium: A Paradigm Shift in Patient Care!” on October 28-29. This two-day event, sponsored by Cornell’s Academic Integration Initiative, bridged the strengths in Ithaca with the clinical and technological environment in New York City. We arranged the symposium’s sessions to leverage combined expertise from all three campuses. By collaborating, we continue to be at the forefront of driving a preventative, data driven approach to improving patient care across all disease types.

The symposium drew hundreds of attendees who heard from dozens of speakers across the Weill Cornell Medicine, Cornell University in Ithaca, and Cornell Tech campuses. Many more joined by Live Stream across the campuses.

EIPM Director Olivier Elemento, Ph.D.

“I’m very excited to have the opportunity to gather the entire Cornell community to discuss precision medicine and its many facets. We have a wonderful program today and tomorrow highlighting our many precision medicine programs, from genomics applied to cancer, neurodegenerative diseases & cardiovascular diseases, from artificial intelligence to mobile applications that collect information from patients. Cornell has an amazing strength in precision medicine, and the goal of this symposium is to make everyone aware of these strengths and our collective research. We want to raise awareness of this work and inspire additional research to enable collaborations that benefit patients,” said EIPM Director Olivier Elemento, Ph.D. (left), kicking off the symposium in his opening remarks.

Precision Medicine Symposium, Cornell Weill, Tata Innovation Center – 10/28/19

Dr. Elemento was joined at the start of the symposium by co-organizers (right) Cora N. Sternberg, M.D., the EIPM’s Clinical Director; Ankur Singh, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Mechanical Engineering and Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University; Tanzeem Choudhury, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Computing and Information Science at Cornell University; and Deborah Estrin, Ph.D., Associate Dean for Impact at Cornell Tech, who together presented a “Precision Medicine Overview and Opportunities for Cross Campus Collaboration,” to participants gathered at the Cornell Tech campus on New York City’s Roosevelt Island.

Session I, under the theme of “A Personalized Approach to Patient Care,” followed the opening remarks. The first speakers in this session focussed on the amazing strides being made in cancer research. EIPM Member David Nanus, M.D., Associate Director of Clinical Services at Weill Cornell Medicine’s Sandra and Edward Meyer Cancer Center, presented “Precision Medicine in Cancers: It Makes a Difference;” EIPM’s Lisa Newman, M.D., Chief, Division of Breast Surgery at Weill Cornell Medicine, spoke passionately about her work in Africa, exploring “Opportunities to Reduce Disparities Through Precision Medicine;” and Kevin Holcomb, M.D., Vice-Chair of Gynecology at Weill Cornell Medicine, discussed “Cancer Genomics in Gynecologic Oncology: Toward a Paradigm of Precision Medicine.”

Betsy Ross, M.D. Ph. D., – “Accelerating a Precision Medicine to Neurological Diagnosis and Care”

“I’m the Director of the Weill Cornell Medicine Center for Neurogenetics (CNG), which is a translational hub devoted to patient care through advanced genomics and research with a focus on brain diseases. We begin with referrals from our neurological and psychiatric services to our neurogenetics research clinics and our in-house computational geneticist, we run a CNG sample bio-repository that is a bridge between our neuroscientists and our patients and clinicians. We work very closely with the Englander Institute for Precision Medicine, and provide training and outreach in neurogenetics,” explained EIPM Members Betsey Ross, M.D., Ph.D. (left) at the start of her presentation, “Accelerating a Precision Medicine Approach to Neurological Diagnosis and Care.”

Precision Medicine Symposium, Cornell Weill, Tata Innovation Center – 10/28/19

Later in the Session Richard Isaacscon, M.D., Director of the Alzheimer’s Prevention Clinic and the Weill Cornell Memory Disorders Program, discussed “A Clinical Precision Medicine Approach to Alzheimer’s disease,” and Geoffrey Pitt, Ph.D., Director, Cardiovascular Research Institute at Weill Cornell Medicine, presented the “Emerging Role of Polygenic Risk Scores in Cardiovascular Medicine.”

After a coffee break, Greg Morrisett, Ph.D., Dean of Cornell’s Faculty of Computing and Information Science and an international expert in software security, who was recently named the Jack and Rilla Neafsey Dean and Vice Provost of Cornell Tech, welcomed Symposium participants to his campus, and discussed the role Cornell Tech plays in fostering cross campus collaborations.


Tanzeem Choudhury, Ph. D., “Closing the sensing to intervention loop for health”

Session II, “Innovations in Healthcare Technology,” began with the presentation “Closing the Sensing-to-Intervention Loop for Health,” by professor Tanzeem Choudhury, Ph.D. (left), Associate Professor, Computing and Information Science at Cornell University. Her presentation was followed by Andrea Sboner, Ph.D., Director of Informatics and Computational Biology at the EIPM, who spoke about “Mixed Reality for Precision Medicine Labs.”

Andrea Sboner, Ph. D., “Mixed Reality for Precision Medicine Labs”

“At the EIPM we use both augmented virtuality and augmented reality to better understand complex data. For example, we use augmented virtuality to interact with complex protein structures to better understand where a particular gene mutation is, and augmented reality to display complex concepts like drug interactions and to display the results from single cell sequencing. These tools are very good for collaborations, like the one we enjoy with Dr. Karsten Suhre at WCM-Qatar, which allow us to collaborate virtually across continents, which is really very exciting,” said Dr. Sboner (right) in his presentation.

Later, Jason G. Mezey, Ph.D., Professor, Department of Biological Statistics and Computational Biology at Cornell University presented “Big Data Opportunities to Drive Precision Medicine in Clinical Trials.” JP Pollak, Ph.D., Senior Researcher-in-Residence at Cornell Tech and Visiting Fellow at Weill Cornell Medicine spoke about “Digital Technologies for Personalization and Assessment,” and EIPM’s Iman Hajirasouliha, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Computational Genomics at Weill Cornell Medicine, closed the session with a talk about “Deep Learning for Assessment and Selection of Blastocysts After IVF.”

Poster Session, Precision Medical Research Symposium, Tata Innovation Center – 10/28/19

The first day of the Symposium concluded with a poster session (left), “Envisioning Biological Models: Tumor Organoids, Patient Derived Models and Artificial Intelligence.”

The second day of the Symposium, held in Weill Cornell Medicine’s Belfer Research Building in Manhattan, focused on efforts to make sure that patients benefit as quickly as possible from cutting edge research. The session, “From Bench to Bedside: Accelerating Clinical Research,” began with “Bringing Metabolomics and Proteomics to the Clinic,” a presentation by Karsten Suhre, Ph.D., Professor of Physiology and Biophysics at Weill Cornell Medicine—Qatar, and “A Liquid Biopsy for Infectious Disease,” by Iwijn De Vlaminick, Ph.D., Professor in Life Science and Technology at Cornell University’s Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering.

The third speaker in this session, Paul Soloway, Ph.D., Professor of Molecular Genetics and Chair, Department of Biomedical Sciences at Cornell University presented “Single-Cell Characterization of a Neurodevelopmental Disorder,” followed by Yariv Houvras, M.D., Ph.D., the Mildred L. and John F. Rasweiler Research Scholar in Cancer Research at Weill Cornell Medicine and Associate Attending Physician at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, who spoke about “Building Patient Specific Genetic Models of Cancer in Zebrafish.”

Monica Guzman, Ph.D.

The final speakers in this session were Monica Guzman, Ph.D. (right), Associate Professor of Pharmacology in Medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine, who addressed “Targeting the Epichaperome as a Tailored Therapeutic Approach,” and Marcin Imielinski, M.D., Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Computational Genomics in Computational Biomedicine at Weill Cornell Medicine and Assistant Attending Pathologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, concluded the session with “Novel Patterns of Complex Rearrangement Across Thousands of Cancer Genome Graphs.”

“Digital Technologies for Clinical Care,” Panel Discussion

Three panel discussions followed the morning session, first with a focus on “Digital Technologies for Clinical Care,” (left) moderated by Deborah Estrin, Ph.D., and Olivier Elemento, Ph.D., with participation by Dr. JP Pollack, Alex Sigaras, EIPM’s Senior Research Associate in Computational Biomedicine, Assistant Professor Iman Hajirasouliha, Ph.D., and Pegah Khosravi, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Associate in Computational Biomedicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.

The second panel sought to explore collaborations under the theme “Translational Research Together,” and was moderated by EIPM Core Team Members Cora N. Sternberg, M.D., and EIPM’s Director of Innovation Alicia Alonso, Ph.D., with participation by Laura Martin, Ph.D., EIPM’s Director of Ex Vivo Models, Professor Ankur Singh, Ph.D., Ben Cosgrove, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Meinig School of Biomedical Engineering at Cornell University, and Professor Karsten Suhre, Ph.D.

A working group over lunch explored a range of topics discussed throughout the Symposium, and was followed by a final Panel discussion focusing on “Facilitating Cross Campus Collaboration for Trainees.”

We thank everyone who participated in this Symposium and look forward to creating an even more exciting event next year, and we thank Cornell’s Academic Integration Initiative for sponsoring the event.

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