GA4GH 9th Plenary Meeting announces Dr. Harold Varmus and Dr. Alan Christoffels as keynote speakers

13 September 2021

community, datasharing, plenary

The Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) will hold its 9th annual Plenary Meeting on September 28 and 29, 2021. Open, free, and virtual, 9th Plenary aims to bring together the global genomics and health community to address the complexities of sharing genomic and related health data across traditional bounds.

This year, Dr. Harold Varmus and Dr. Alan Christoffels will join GA4GH 9th Plenary as keynote speakers. 

Dr. Varmus, the Lewis Thomas University Professor at Cornell and an associate member of the New York Genome Center, is also Chair of the World Health Organization (WHO) Science Council and the GA4GH Scientific Advisory Board. He previously served as Director of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, President of the Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, and Director of the U.S. National Cancer Institute. Over the course of his scientific career, Dr. Varmus has made significant contributions to the fields of retrovirology and cancer biology. At 9th Plenary, Dr. Varmus will speak on the WHO’s approach to genomics in his talk, “A new appraisal of genomics at the World Health Organization (WHO).”

Dr. Christoffels is Director of the South African National Bioinformatics Institute based at the University of the Western Cape. His research focuses on infectious diseases and building computational tools for analyzing high throughput genomics data. Dr. Christoffels also serves as Director of the Public Heath Alliance for Genomic Epidemiology (PHA4GE) and is a member of the founding working group of H3Africa. At 9th Plenary, Dr. Christoffels will discuss PHA4GE in his talk, “The Role of the Public Health Alliance for Genomic Epidemiology in response to barriers in global (pathogen) data sharing.”

“We crafted this year’s programme to reflect the urgent need for responsible data sharing in these times and to bring the community together to solve important challenges”, said Dr. Melanie Courtot, Metadata Standards Coordinator at EMBL-EBI and Chair of the 9th Plenary Programme Committee

GA4GH 9th Plenary is centered around four thematic tracks across two daily time blocks to optimize global participation:

  • Track 1 (15:00 UTC 19:30 UTC, September 28): The GA4GH Story So Far. This track will provide an overview of GA4GH’s work to date, spotlighting several GA4GH standards in action.
  • Track 2 (22:00 UTC 2:30 UTC, September 28 29): Collaborate. Innovate. Accelerate. This track will feature several implementations of GA4GH standards and a panel on engaging with underrepresented communities.
  • Track 3 (15:00 UTC 19:30 UTC, September 29): Responsible Data. This track will highlight more implementations of GA4GH standards and include a panel on data privacy and regulatory and ethical considerations around data sharing.
  • Track 4 (22:00 UTC 2:30 UTC, September 29 30): Expanding the Scope and Impact of GA4GH. This track will explore topics outside of the traditional GA4GH community, including COVID-19 data sharing as well as bridging research, industry, and clinical care.

If you are new to GA4GH, the GA4GH Secretariat will host an introductory webinar on September 21 to provide an overview of the organization and answer your questions ahead of Plenary.

“While we still cannot meet in person, we look forward to utilizing our virtual platform to engage even more communities around the globe,” said Peter Goodhand, CEO of GA4GH. “We look forward to welcoming everyone soon!”

Learn more and register for GA4GH 9th Plenary today.