Insights from the largest Chinese genetics conference

Kunming, a beautiful city in the southwest of China which attracts millions of tourists every year, became the center of Chinese genetic research from 14-17 August 2015. Here, Kun Yu and Bailu Xu reveal more about what went on at the conference held here.

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Beside the famous Dian Lake, the National Congress of the Genetics Society of China was held, with over 600 people attending this important event, only held twice every five years.

The topic of the conference was “Genetic Diversity: Frontiers and Challenges” and the meeting attracted many top Chinese genetic scientists.

The latest trends in genetic research

During the three days, scientists presented and discussed the latest trends in genetic research at the conference. As a keynote speaker, Professor Lin He from Shanghai Jiaotong University talked about the coming of the era of psychosis and pointed out that psychological problems have become a non-negligible issue in modern people.He also emphasized the importance of genetic studies in understanding psychological diseases.

In the last part of Professor He’s talk, he brought the audiences a brand new concept named ‘New Medicine’ which he described as a combination of traditional medicine, genomics, and genetic consulting. He said that this combination would bring medicine into a new era.

Another keynote speaker, Professor Guoqiang Chen talked about the importance of the regulation of gene expression in enhancing the efficiency of producing a very useful polyester named polyhydroxyalkanoates via biosynthesis.

For creating a sustainable environment for future generations of human beings, Professor Chen urged for more research to be carried out in developing synthetic biology. He hoped that in the future people would be able to apply this more environmentally friendly method in manufacturing more useful chemicals for the whole society.

BioMed Central’s booth discussions

Besides these interesting stories from keynote speakers, scientists from different sessions also brought attendees some fascinating scientific discoveries. Professor Linquan Bai, a professor in microbial genetics from Shanghai Jiaotong University, gave a talk to unveil the mechanistic mystery of nitrates in enhancing the efficiency of biosynthesis of Lincomycin.

After his talk, Professor Bai came to BioMed Central’s booth and shared with us his thoughts in scientific publishing and his research field. He stressed the importance of the open access model in scientific research and praised our microbiology journals, such as Microbial Cell Factories and BMC Microbiology. For future trends in microbiology, he pointed out that drug discovery via microbial approaches should have big potential for researchers to explore.

BMC staff with Prof Tianzhen Zhang
BMC staff with Prof Tianzhen Zhang

In the field of plant genetics, the top cotton scientist from Nanjing Agricultural University, Professor Tianzhen Zhang gave us a talk focusing on domestication of tetraploid cotton as a follow-up of his previous work published in Genome Biology earlier this year.

Professor Zhang also came to BioMed Central’s booth and shared his ideas on scientific publishing. He pointed out the importance of ethics in scientific publishing and stressed that the vast majority of Chinese researchers do treat publishing ethics very seriously.

In addition, he emphasized that publications speed is a core competence for scientific journals in the current research world and he praised the fact that the open access model has brought authors a faster process from submission to publication.

BMC staff with Prof Huanming Yang
BMC staff with Prof Huanming Yang

When talking about the ethics in genomic diagnosis and genome editing, Professor Huanming Yang from the Beijing Genomics Institute discussed the importance of ethics in scientific research.

He emphasized that ethics are not supposed to oppose scientific research. Instead, ethics should support the development of science while scientists should also pay attention to ethics when conducting research.

In a subsequent panel discussion, several researchers suggested that the whole research community should slow down the pace of genome editing on human germ cells and further steps into this field should only be taken if the safety and reliability of multiplex genome editing technology can be guaranteed.

The future of sequencing

The conference ended with a series of keynote speeches focusing on the future of genetics and genome research. From the Human Genome Project to building the Tree of Life, Professor Huanming Yang shared his experiences of the cutting-edge research he has carried out over the past 20 years.

Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of sequencing.


Professor Yang
Beijing Genomics Institute

As sequencing becomes the most commonly used tool in every aspect of biological and medical research, dreams to sequence everything and to sequence everybody still encourage scientists to innovate in this field.

The future of sequencing is more than just understanding the genome but also owns the capability to improve the tree of life, to improve breeding and bio-industry, as well as to improve health, much as President Obama raised the idea of Precision Medicine.

Professor Yang ended his talk with a revised version of a famous saying “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of sequencing”.

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Jordan

It’s always fun seeing great minds come together at conferences like this. Sounds like some interesting discussions happened! Thanks for sharing this overview.

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