The Most Wonderful Webinars of the Year
Thursday, December 31, 2020
The year the world went virtual is virtually over, so what better time to reflect on all the great online offerings featuring SMRT Sequencing this year. While we would have rather gathered in exotic locales to see you in person and share our science, 2020 did provide some amazing opportunities to go global and broadcast worldwide.
Here are some of the highlights:
What better place to start than with an introduction to our technology, followed by a panel of sequencing experts — Melissa Laird-Smith (@SmithLab_UofL), Michael Hartigan, and Olga Vinnere Pettersson (@OlgaVPettersson) — with some sequencing basics: explaining long reads and their utility, how PacBio long-read sequencing differs from other technologies, and the applications PacBio offers and how they can benefit scientific research.
Our popular regional user group gatherings were combined into one mega meeting this year, which meant nearly 30 hours of talks across time zones, over the course of two days. With so many sessions, it’s impossible to cover them all here, but suffice it to say, there were many magnificent presentations by our users, plus hands-on workshops, live Q&As, and a meet-and-greet with our new CEO, Christian Henry. Well worth spending time catching up!
Register here to watch these presentations on-demand
We rang in 2020 at the ever-popular PAG meeting. In addition to an overview of the year ahead by CSO Jonas Korlach, our workshop featured several great talks by our users, including an update on the Sanger Institute’s Darwin Tree of Life project by Mark Blaxter (@blaxterlab); a talk about the tetraploid rose assembly by Bart Nijland (@bart3601) of Genetwister Technologies; great apes work by Zev Kronenberg (@zevkronenberg); and a discussion of plant-living funghi by Jana U’Ren (@you_wren) of the University of Arizona.
Missing PAG 2021 in January? Join us for PAGBio Day, our online alternative, on Jan. 19. Save your seat!
Although we sure missed spending a few glorious spring days in the stunning Dutch city of Leiden, we were delighted to make our annual European user gathering international. This fave meet-up included not only top talks by plant, animal, human and microbial scientists, but also a strong offering of bioinformatics sessions. Keynotes included Vertebrate Genomes Project leaders Erich Jarvis (@erichjarvis) and Sergey Koren (@sergekoren) from the National Institute of Health.
Register here to watch these presentations on-demand.
One of the last conferences we were able to attend in person, AGBT featured several informative sessions. Tina Graves-Lindsay from the McDonnell Genome Institute (@GenomeInstitute) described how her team is using PacBio sequencing to produce reference-grade human genome assemblies. Adam Ameur (@_adameur) from Uppsala University discussed the use of long-read sequencing to detect off-target results from CRISPR-Cas9 gene editing studies. And Brenda Oppert from the USDA made a convincing argument for developing insect-based food sources for people.
Our first all-day event dedicated to neuroscience, #PBNeuroDay showcased a lot of emerging rare disease research. From unravelling repeat expansions to creating new methods of carrier screening, the 25 sessions tackled a wide array of topics and diseases, from ALS, Alzheimers and Ataxia to Muscular Dystrophy, Parkinson’s, Progressive Supranuclear Palsy and Schizophrenia.
Register here to watch these presentations on-demand
ASHG featured a wide variety of talks and video poster presentations covering a range of applications using PacBio long-read sequencing technology, from single-cell isoform analysis of the nervous system (by Hagen Tilgner @hagentilgner of Weill Cornell) to solving rare disease cases in children (by Emily Farrow of Children’s Mercy). After hearing from our users, be sure to check out the handy overviews by PacBio experts Aaron Wenger and Liz Tseng (@magdoll).
This Spanish language webinar was a huge hit. Carmen Guarco, Senior Field Application Scientist specializing in bioinformatics, was joined by Álvaro G. Hernandez (@UIUC_DNAseq), Director of DNA services at the Roy J Carver Biotechnology Center at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to offer an overview of PacBio technology and tips for getting the most out of HiFi reads.
As it becomes increasingly clear that single reference genomes for each species are not enough, many scientists are interested in creating pangenome collections. So we brought together two experts — Kevin Fengler of Corteva and Matthias H. Weissensteiner (@MWeissensteiner) of Penn State to discuss the advantages of sequencing multiple individuals to gain comprehensive views of genetic variation, and the speed, cost, and accuracy benefits of using HiFi reads to sequence species of interest.
How can the Sequel II System help with complex metagenomics projects? Meredith Ashby (@AsbhyMere), Director of Microbial Genomics at PacBio, was joined by Bing Ma of the Institute of Genome Science at the University of Maryland, who discussed her work using long-read sequencing to identify high-resolution microbial biomarkers associated with leaky gut syndrome in premature infants. George Weinstock (@geowei) of The Jackson Laboratory, talked about the potential of highly accurate long reads enabling strain-level resolution of the human gut microbiome by resolving intraspecies variation in multiple copies of the 16S gene.
Long-Read Sequencing in COVID-19 Research
We’d be remiss not to mention our talks covering COVID-19 itself. In the Labroots webinar Opportunities for using PacBio Long-read Sequencing for COVID-19 Research, Meredith Ashby, Director of Microbial Genomics at PacBio, described how HiFi sequencing could be used for mutation phasing and rare variant detection to understand viral stability and mutation rates, as well as providing insights into viral population structure for monitoring viral evolution. In Understanding SARS-CoV-2 and Host Immune Response to COVID-19 with PacBio Sequencing, Melissa Laird-Smith (@SmithLab_UofL) discussed her work evaluating the impact of host immune restriction in health and disease with high resolution HLA typing and Corey Watson (@ctwatson29) of the University of Louisville School of Medicine talked about overcoming complexity to elucidate the role of IGH haplotype diversity in antibody-mediated immunity.
We look forward to plenty more new discoveries in 2021 – Happy New Year!