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Chen Award for Distinguished Academic Achievement in Human Genetic and Genomic Research (2010)

Yusuke Nakamura, Japan
University of Tokyo

Prof. Nakamura has been contributing to genomic medicine and also cancer research fields for more than two decades. He was one of pioneers in developing and applying genetic polymorphic markers (VNTR and SNP) in the medical genomics field. DNA polymorphic markers developed and mapped by his groups have contributed to map and clone genes responsible to hereditary diseases, those susceptible to common diseases, those related to drug response, and those involved in cancer. His groups in Cancer Institute, University of Tokyo, Osaka University and RIKEN SNP Research Center (present name is RIKEN Center for Genomic Medicine) in Japan have isolated dozens of genes of medical importance by genomics approach. In addition, RIKEN SNP Research Center led by him participated in the International HapMap Consortium and made the largest contribution in the Phase 1 HapMap project published in Nature (2005). His contribution in human genetics and cancer research fields can be measured by his publication of more than 1,000 articles, including 32 articles in American Journal of Human Genetics, 107 in Cancer Research,15 in Nature, 36 in Nature Genetics, and 11 in Science, that have been cited for more than 65,000 times in total

Acceptance Speech - Titled: DNA variations in human and medical genetics: My 25-year experience

DNA variations have contributed enormously to the fields of human and medical science in the last two-three decades, especially for identification of genes responsible or susceptible to various diseases, those involved in cancer and those associated with efficacy or adverse reactions of various drugs. The types of genetic variation used in these studies have changed in the past 25 years and can be classified into five major classes: RFLP (restriction fragment length polymorphism), VNTR (variable number of tandem repeat), STR (short tandem repeat or microsatellite), SNP (single-nucleotide polymorphism) and CNV (copy-number variation). Genetic linkage analysis using these tools mapped and discovered genes responsible for hundreds of hereditary diseases. Furthermore, construction of the international SNP database and recent development of high-throughput SNP typing platforms enabled us to perform genome-wide association studies, which have identified genes (or genetic variations) susceptible to common diseases or those associated with drug responses. Genome-wide sequencing of individual DNAs is gaining immense scope. I would like to summarize the history of polymorphic DNA markers and their contribution to the genetic analysis of both rare hereditary diseases and common diseases, as well as recent advances in pharmacogenetics, including our contribution to these areas.


Ng Huck Hui, Singapore
Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS)

Huck-Hui NG is currently a Senior Group Leader of the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) and an Associate Professor (Adjunct) with the National University of Singapore and the Nanyang Technological University.

Huck-Hui NG graduated from the National University of Singapore and obtained his PhD from the University of Edinburgh. He spent the next few years working at the Harvard Medical School as a Damon Runyon-Walter Winchell research fellow.

His lab is studying gene regulation in stem cells. Specifically, his group is using genome wide approaches to dissect the transcriptional regulatory networks in embryonic stem cells and to identify key nodes in this network. More recently, his lab has begun to investigate the reprogramming code behind the induction of pluripotency in somatic cells. His research work has earned him several prestigious national accolades including the Singapore Youth Award 2005 and the National Science Award 2007.

Acceptance Speech - Titled: Deciphering and reconstructing the embryonic stem cell transcriptional regulatory network

Embryonic stem (ES) cells are characterized by their ability to self-renew and remain pluripotent. Transcription factors have critical roles in the maintenance of ES cells through specifying an ES-cell-specific gene expression program. Deciphering the transcriptional regulatory network that describes the specific interactions of these transcription factors with the genomic template is crucial for understanding the design and key components of this network. To gain insights into the transcriptional regulatory networks in ES cells, we use chromatin immunoprecipitation coupled to ultra-high-throughput DNA sequencing (ChIP-seq) to map the locations of sequence specific transcription factors. These factors are known to play different roles in ES cell biology. Our study provides new insights into the integration of these regulators to the ES cell-specific transcription circuitries. Collectively, the mapping of transcription factor binding sites identifies new features of the transcriptional regulatory networks that define ES cell identity. Using this knowledge, we investigate nodes in the network which when activated, will jump-start the ES cell-specific expression program in somatic cells.

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