International guest speaker

Chengya Liang, MD, PhD, MBA
Senior Product Manager, Clinical Next-generation Sequencing Division, Thermo Fisher Scientific, USA

Chengya is a Senior Product Manager in Clinical Next-Gen Sequencing Division of Thermo Fisher, where she manages diversified product portfolios including NGS library products and Immuno Oncology product. Before joined Clinical Next-Gen Sequencing business, Chengya graduated from Thermo Fisher corporate Graduated Leadership Development Program. She has also practiced as a Physician and worked as a Senior Scientist in biotech and pharmaceutical service companies. Chengya authored more than twenty conference and journal papers published in renowned academic journals and co-coauthored an academic book chapter. She also presented at more than twenty of the most widely attended national and international academic conferences.

Chengya was feathered in Association for Women in Science (AWIS) magazine, BusinessBecause magazine and Cornell Enterprise Magazine. She was also an invited keynote speaker of Women in Technology International (WITI) summit. Chengya earned her MD from Shandong Univ, PhD from Virginia Tech, and MBA from Cornell University

Local Speakers

Glenn Francis MBBS (Hons) FRCPA MBA FFSc (RCPA) PhD
Medical Director, Genomics for Life, Melbourne

Dr Glenn Francis graduated from the University of Queensland in 1984 (MBBS Hons) and subsequently trained in general pathology.

Following completion of his training in 1991, he began work in a private pathology laboratory and established a number of new private laboratories in Central Queensland. Dr Francis developed an interest in breast and molecular pathology and became Convener of the RCPA Immunohistochemistry Quality Assurance Program (RCPA QAP Pty Ltd) in 2001. In 2002, he relocated to the Gold Coast and was appointed Pathologist in charge of the Gold Coast and Northern Rivers region in a private pathology laboratory. In 2005 he was appointed Director of Pathology Princess Alexandra Hospital Brisbane and established the Molecular and Clinical Pathology Research Laboratory in 2008. In 2011 he was appointed as Medical Director Pathology Queensland Central Laboratory (Royal Brisbane, Women's and Children's Hospitals) and initiated the molecular testing program for the RCPA QAP for mutations in EGFR, BRAF and KRAS. In late 2013 he returned to private pathology practice. He routinely reports molecular diagnostic pathology including next generation sequencing of somatic mutations in cancer using multi-gene panels and inherited disease and his current role also includes the oversight and reporting of NIPS in a private diagnostic molecular pathology laboratory, Genomics For Life. In 2016, Dr Francis commenced as Director Pathology Melbourne Health, Royal Melbourne Hospital.

Dr Francis has a special interest in molecular pathology and personalised medicine. His current appointments include Adjunct Associate Professor Griffith University, President Australasian Immunohistochemistry Society, Molecular Pathology Advisory Board, EGFR IHC Expert Panel, RCPA Tissue Banking Working Party, Assessor for the National Association of Testing Authorities, RCPA General Pathology Advisory Committee, RCPA Genetic Pathology Advisory Committee, RCPA Cancer Services Advisory Committee and MSAC Expert Standing Panel.

His current research activities include prognostic biomarkers in breast cancer, molecular biology, diagnostic oncology, next generation sequencing, neural network applications in pathology, immunohistochemistry and in-situ hybridization and he has recently completed a PhD. Collaborative research is being performed in conjunction with the University of Queensland and The Garvan Institute.
Paul Lacaze, PhD
Head of Public Health Genomics Program, Alfred Centre, Monash University, Melbourne

Paul Lacaze is inaugural Head of the Public Health Genomics Program at Monash University and conducts research into the role of genetics in public and population health. Paul has a PhD in molecular genetics from the University of Edinburgh and experience in both the academic and commercial life sciences sectors. Paul provides genomics leadership for the ASPREE study, Australia’s largest clinical trial and study of healthy ageing, involving cohort-scale sequencing of biobanked samples. His work involves identifying known deleterious mutations in healthy adults to improve the interpretations of penetrance, pathogenicity and clinical actionability.
Kelly Ewen-White, PhD
Manager, Strategic Partnerships and Technical Sales Specialists, Thermo Fisher Scientific
David Humphreys, PhD
Senior Research Scientist and Manager of Genome Core Facility, Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute

Dr David Humphreys is a multidisciplinary wet-lab-scientist/bioinformatician who manages the Genomics Core facility at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute. His undergraduate training comprised of a joint major in Biology and Computer Science before completing honours followed by a PhD in molecular biology. After joining the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute (VCCRI) he developed a research interest in gene regulation and the involvement of small non ‐ coding RNAs. Since 2009 he began being involved in studies utilising high throughput sequence technologies (SOLiD, Illumina, Proton) which has allowed him to refocus his computer science skills. In 2011 he became the manager of the VCCRI genomics core where he provides expertise, advice and both experimental and bioinformatics support to a wide range of projects. David has a number of active research collaborations, primarily with VCCRI faculty and St Vincent’s Hospital cardiologists, utilising RNA‐Seq and exome/genome sequencing.
Anandwardhan Hardikar, PhD
Associate Professor and Australian Future Fellow, Sydney Medical School, University of Sydney

Anandwardhan A. Hardikar, PhD, received MSc in Zoology (Genetics) and a PhD in Zoology from the University of Pune. After successful completion of his PhD work, carried out mainly at the National Center for Cell Science and partly at the WHO center, Catholic University of Louvain, Louvain-La-Neuve, Belgium, he continued training in the field of pancreas biology and diabetes at the University of Pennsylvania, School of Medicine, where he worked with Doris Stoffers. He worked with Professor Bernie Tuch at the University of New South Wales/POWH during the year 2000, where he pursued his research interests in transplantation of insulin-producing surrogate beta-cells. After his research tenure (2001-2005) in the laboratory of Marvin Gershengorn, Scientific Director, NIDDK, NIH, Bethesda, MD, he went on to join the National Center for Cell Science, Pune, India. Associate Professor Hardikar lead Diabetes and Pancreas Biology Section at O'Brien Institute, St. Vincent's Hospital and the University of Melbourne, in Melbourne, Australia.
Yash Tiwari, PhD
Technical Specialist, Gene Expression and Genotyping, Thermo Fisher Scientific

Yash is Technical Sales Specialist for ThermoFisher Scientific’s Gene expression and Genotyping product portfolio. He has a PhD in Neuroscience from UNSW and a Masters degree in Biotechnology from UQ. Yash has been working with ThermoFisher Scientific for nearly 4 years.
Darren Korbie, PhD
Head of Sequencing, Centre for Personalized Nanomedicine, Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology, University of Queensland

Darren is the Head of Sequencing at the Centre for Personalised Nanomedicine, AIBN, UQ with extensive experience in high‐throughput sequencing methodologies and bioinformatics (he currently supervises 5 full‐time researchers in this space). In the past 5 years, Darren has co-authored papers in genomics, transcripomics and epigenomics giving fundamental insights into the role of noncoding DNA, DNA methylation, and RNA. Over the past 2 years he has focused on building a translational genomics facility with next-generation technologies, and is currently overseeing the transition of this facility to a 17025 and 15189 NATA‐accredited testing laboratory.
Lyn Griffiths, PhD
Executive Director, Institute of Health Biomedical Innovation, QUT

Professor Lyn Griffiths is a medical researcher with expertise in human gene mapping and molecular genetics who has been studying the genes involved in common human disorders for over two decades. Her. Professor Griffiths established and heads the Genomics Research Centre at the Institute of Health and Biomedical Innovation, QUT where her research focuses on identifying the genes involved in complex disorders, including migraine and other neurological disorders.
Nicole Chia, MScMed, PhD, FHGSA, FFSc(RCPA)
Associate Professor, University of Canberra
Head, Genetic Department, QML Pathology


Associate Professor Nicole Chia is a highly experienced clinical scientist, having begun working in the field of Clinical Cytogenetics in 1983. She is a Fellow of the Royal College of Pathologists of Australasia’s Faculty of Science (FFSc., RCPA) and a Fellow of the Human Genetics Society of Australia (FHGSA). Nicole obtained her Master of Science degree in 2008 and is currently completing her PhD thesis. She has an international reputation in the field of Clinical Cytogenetics including a role as consultant to the International Standing Committee on Human Cytogenetic Nomenclature. She has been an invited speaker at numerous international and national meetings and has a number of peer reviewed scientific publications, and an active promoter of continuing education and a senior board member of the HGSA as Chief Examiner and Chair of the Cytogenetics Board of Censors.

In her role as Adjunct Associate Professor at Canberra University Nicole continues to pursue her commitment to the education of medical scientists in the field of clinical and molecular cytogenetics, a rapidly expanding field of diagnostic pathology. Nicole is the Genetics Manager for QML pathology, Specialist Diagnostic Services and currently manages an Australia-wide diagnostic Cytogenetic and Molecular Cytogenetic Service.
Joanna Williams, PhD
Senior Lecturer, University of Otago

Dr. Williams is a graduate of Otago University. Following completion of her PhD. Joanna was awarded a Health Research Council of NZ Postdoc Fellowship followed by a Human Frontiers of Science Short Term Fellowship, which took her to the Rockefeller University, New York, New York. Joanna has had Marsden and HRC funding to pursue mechanisms underlying memory formation and cognitive decline during aging & Alzheimer’s. Joanna has mentored 20 honours; 6 MSc and 6 x PhD students to completion and currently supervises 2 honours and 3 PhD. Students. Joanna is Co-Director of the Brain Research New Zealand Rangahau Roro Aotearoa. Her laboratory is based within the Department of Anatomy, University of Otago. Her laboratory has a major focus on identification of biomarkers within blood plasma, which may be useful in the early detection and diagnosis of neurological diseases.
Cristin Print, PhD
Professor, Molecular Medicine and Pathology, University of Auckland

Cris graduated in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Auckland in 1989. He worked as a house surgeon and undertook asthma research in Dunedin before completing a Immunology PhD in Auckland under Professor Jim Watson. He used transgenic technologies to research apoptosis in Melbourne, Australia, before moving to Cambridge University, UK, where he researched the genomics of reproduction and was a fellow of St Edmund’s College. He co-founded a public genomics and bioinformatics company in Japan before returning to New Zealand in 2005 where he has been using genomics to better understand human pathology, with special focus on cancer. Cris is currently a Professor in the University's Department of Molecular Medicine and Pathology, a Principal Investigator in the Maurice Wilkins Centre, on the Science Leadership Team of the Healthier Lives National Science Challenge, Chair of Scientific Advisory Board of the Auckland Regional Tissue Bank and Vice President of the Auckland Museum Institute. He is immediate past Director of the NZ Bioinformatics Institute and immediate past President of the New Zealand Society for Oncology.
Justin O'Sullivan, PhD
Senior Research Fellow, Liggins Institute, University of Auckland

My students and I use a holistic approach to understand genomes and cell structure formation, function, and inheritance. Our goal is to incorporate an understanding of genome dynamics and the spatial organization of a genome into our understanding of the relationships between what a cell’s DNA codes for (the genotype) and what we actually see (the phenotype). To do this we use and develop methods and technologies from molecular biology, bioinformatics, and computational biology to integrate the spatial organization of genomes with measures of their function.

We are currently using these approaches to understand development, diseases and the human microbiome. Specifically we are interested in: 1) how single nucleotide polymorphisms work together to contribute to growth and complex diseases; 2) how the mitochondria contributes to the regulation of nuclear genes; 3) how genomes change shape during development and migration and how these changes affect genes and replication; 4) how bacteria and single celled eukaryotes organise their genomes to optimise cellular metabolism; 5) the contribution that the microbiome makes to the regulation of genes and the development/treatment of complex disorders.
Stephen Leslie, D.Phil.
Associate Professor of Statistical Genomics, Centre for Systems Genomics, Schools of Mathematics and Statistics, and BioSciences, The University of Melbourne

Associate Professor Stephen Leslie is a statistician working in the field of mathematical genetics. A/Prof. Leslie did his undergraduate degree at ANU, including honours in Mathematics. He obtained his doctorate from the Department of Statistics, University of Oxford in 2008, followed by post-doctoral work at Oxford, before becoming the Head of Statistical Genetics at Murdoch Childrens Research Institute in 2012. Since 2016 Stephen has been at the University of Melbourne as Associate Professor of Statistical Genomics, in the Schools of Mathematics and Statistics, and Biosciences, and the Centre for Systems Genomics. In late 2016 he was awarded the Woodward Medal in Science and Technology, the University of Melbourne’s highest award for staff, which is given for research that has made the most significant contribution to knowledge in the five years prior to the award.

A/Prof. Leslie's work covers several aspects of statistical and population genetics. His group's main focus is on methodological developments for the analysis of high throughput genetic data and the application of these methods to studies of disease and natural population variation. These methods typically combine modern computationally-intensive statistical approaches with insights from population genetics models. Specifically the group works on statistical methods for imputing immune system (and other) genes from incomplete genetic data; the application of these methods to studies of autoimmune and other diseases; methods for detecting and controlling for population stratification; and understanding the causes and consequences of genetic variation in populations. The group has strong established collaborations with the Donnelly and McVean groups at the Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics at Oxford.