Gene Forum 2005, September 23-24, 2005
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estonian genome fundation

estonian biocentre
EC project: GENERA

Estonian Biocentre
EC project: GENERA
Tartu - City of Good Thoughts
EU Structural Funds

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Sixth Annual International Gene Forum 2005
"Genetic Medicine: An Array of Opportunities"
September 23-24, 2005, Tartu, Estonia

International Gene Forum 2005 subtitled "Genetic Medicine: An Array of Opportunities" brought together in Tartu for the sixth time the world’s leading specialists in the fields of genetics and biotechnology who presented an overview of the latest trends and future directions in that sphere, especially in medicine.

A total of 275 scientists, physicians, students, healthcare officials and business executives participated in the conference, a tenth of them coming from other Baltic States, Scandinavia, Western Europe and Northern America.

Prof. Richard Villems
Prof. Richard Villems, President of the Estonian Academy of Sciences
The conference was opened by Professor Richard Villems, President of the Estonian Academy of Sciences, who expressed gratitude to the organisers for such a well-prepared high-level conference. According to Professor Villems, this conference format, with the speakers including both global top experts in their respective fields and the listeners comprising many young people and future scientists, satisfies all sides.

Andres Metspalu, Professor of Biotechnology from the University of Tartu and Head of the Programme Committee, said that as a result of the six years of work and owing to the mediation of over a hundred top speakers who have visited Tartu during this period, information about this high-level event is beginning to spread in the global genetics and biotechnology circles. "At the same time, we would appreciate more participants from both the University of Tartu and the University of Tartu Hospital," admitted Professor Metspalu.

In the opening session of the conference, Professor Richard Villems, also Director of the Estonian Biocentre, introduced the genetic history of the modern man. This research is based on the occurrence in people living in different regions of the world of certain mitochondrion and Y chromosome DNA sequences – it allows to determine the exodus route of humans from their place of origin in Africa.

Prof. John Burn
Prof. John Burn, University of Newcastle, Ülikool, UK
John Burn, Professor from the University of Newcastle, and Jan Lubinski, Professor from the Pomeranian Medical University, presented an overview of joint application of sieve testing and DNA analyses in the fight against carcinomas. The progress is evident and this application would be of use to Estonian cancer patients, too.

A separately treated topic was that of the constantly increasing role of biomedical databanks in genome research and medicine. Kurt Zatloukal, Professor from the University of Graz, spoke on the importance of standardising the collected information and Andres Metspalu, Professor of Biotechnology from the University of Tartu, described the current state of the Estonian Genome Project and the scientific projects being carried out on its basis.

The genetic causes of several illnesses were discussed at length, and a more extensive overview was presented of the genetics of cancer, cardiovascular and eye diseases and of the molecular foundations of gene expression.

Prof. Till Roenneberg
Prof. Till Roenneberg, Institute for Medical Psychology, Germany
The conference also included an overview of the connection between the human biological clock and genes. According to Professor Till Roenneberg and Doctor Martha Merrow, the importance of the human biological clock has so far been grossly underestimated. This is a genetic predisposition that people should take into account when choosing a profession and a job. The wish to sleep long in the morning can indeed be a genetic, hereditary trait.

Due to the efforts of the sponsors, 120 young scientists and students and some 75 physicians and scientists could take part in the conference with a discount participation fee. Support in the organisation of the sixth international Gene Forum was provided by the Estonian Biocentre, the city of Tartu and Enterprise Estonia.