Building to Understand: The Constructionist Approach to Studying Gene Regulation
Organisers: Jef Boeke, Stefan Mundlos and Sudarshan Pinglay
Date: 15–18 July 2024
Location: Buxted Park, East Sussex, UK
The genomics revolution has resulted in the generation of a large catalogue of non-coding regulatory elements in the human and other genomes that are implicated in the control of gene expression. However, we still lack an understanding of:
1) the grammar within regulatory elements that specifies how they exert their influence
2) how these elements work together across large genomic windows to specify gene expression
3) how to ultimately predict gene expression from primary sequence. Answering these questions will reveal our developmental blueprint, clarify disease mechanisms, and unlock the potential of personalized medicine and gene therapy.
Inspired by Richard Feynman’s famous aphorism: “What I cannot create, I do not understand”, advances in genome editing, sequencing, synthetic biology, and computational models have converged to enable a ‘constructionist’ approach to understanding gene regulation in complex genomes. Analogous to in vitro reconstitution in biochemistry, such a bottom-up approach has great potential to uncover the intricacies of gene regulation as it allows for exquisite control over all components in the system.
Despite the promise of this approach to set a new paradigm in studies of gene regulation, there has not yet been a venue to bring together the various groups beginning to pursue this ‘constructionist’ strategy. At this Workshop, we aim to organise this burgeoning field into a collaborative community, discuss the philosophical foundations and identify the biggest technology development opportunities to drive the field forward. We will also ponder the implications of what it would take to fully satisfy Feynman’s directive: designing entire genomes from the ground up?
Organisers & speakers
Jef Boeke NYU Langone Health, USA
Stefan Mundlos Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Germany
Sudarshan Pinglay University of Washington, USA
Wendy Bickmore The University of Edinburgh, UK
Christa Buecker University of Vienna, Austria
Justin Michael Crocker European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Germany
Wouter de Laat Hubrecht Institute, Netherlands
Angela DePace Harvard Medical School, USA
Tom Ellis Imperial College London, UK
Emma Farley University of California San Diego, USA
Eileen Furlong European Molecular Biology Laboratory, Germany
Luca Giorgetti Friedrich Miescher Institute for Biomedical Research, Switzerland
Anders Sejr Hansen MIT BE Biological Engineering, USA
Jim Hughes Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, UK
Mira Kassouf Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, UK
Matthew Maurano NYU Langone Health, USA
Dimple Notani National Centre for Biological Sciences, India
Leopold Parts Wellcome Sanger Institute, UK
Alexander Stark Research Institute of Molecular Pathology, Austria
Jussi Taipale University of Cambridge, UK
We offer 10 funded places for early-career researchers (PhD, postdocs and PIs in the first three years of their first appointment) to attend our Workshops along with the 20 invited speakers. We just ask that you pay for your own travel costs. If you would like to attend please complete the online application form and include a one page CV and a letter of support from your supervisor. If your supervisor would prefer to send the letter directly to us please ask them to email it to firstname.lastname@example.org
All attendees are expected to actively contribute to the Workshops by asking questions at presentation sessions and taking part in discussions, as well as giving a short talk on their research.
At some Workshops, early-career researchers are given additional responsibilities to promote their involvement, such as:
- Write a daily blog for The Node
- Summarise the previous day’s themes to set the scene for the next day’s sessions
- Propose future directions and collaborations
- Make a short two minute video on their experience at the Workshop
Most of these activities would be carried out in pairs or small groups and often with the support of more senior scientists present.
Application deadline: Friday 12 January 2024
About Buxted Park
The Workshop will be held at the beautiful Buxted Park in East Sussex which dates back to the 12th century. The current house was built in 1722 by Sir Thomas Medley and is an elegant Grade II Palladian mansion set in 312 acres of parkland. Over the years it has played host to a number of high profile visitors including William Wordsworth, Winston Churchill, and George V and Queen Mary. Whilst it was a health hydro in the 1960s Gregory Peck, Dudley Moore and Marlon Brando were regular visitors.
Buxted Park is less than 25 miles from Gatwick Airport and 60 miles from Heathrow Airport. There are direct trains taking 1 hour 10 minutes from London Bridge to the village of Buxted which is only a mile away from the hotel.
Buxted Park Hotel
Tel: +44 (0) 1825 733333