The annual summit will assemble stakeholders relevant to epigenetics knowledge creation, mobilization, and use in Alberta, along with important stakeholders from outside the province. This meeting will support development of collaborations and partnerships, knowledge exchange, and identifying opportunities for transforming knowledge into action. It will also serve to showcase epigenetics activities in Alberta.
The next Alberta Epigenetics Annual Summit will be held in March 2016.
2015 Annual Summit Report
The 2015 Alberta Epigenetics Network (AEN) Annual Summit was held in Banff on March 30th and 31st to launch the AEN’s strategic plan and programs. The event was extremely well attended and generated a great deal of excitement. The Summit brought together 81 individuals with diverse backgrounds, including: researchers, clinicians, policy makers, funding bodies, and industry. There were 40 presentations discussing how epigenetics impacted various scientific disciplines, including: cancer, agriculture, cell biology, neurosciences, development, and aging. The size and scope of this event was made possible by sponsorship support from Resverlogix corp., Illumina, Cambridge Epigenetics, Abcam, New England BioLabs, and a conference grant from Alberta Innovates Health Solutions.
Collaborations: According to the post-Summit survey, 13 potential collaborations were initiated. These included new collaborations between faculty at the universities of Alberta, Calgary, and Lethbridge, but also between Alberta researchers and Laval or the BC Genome Sciences Centre, and agriculture researchers expressed interested in working with Illumina to develop a commercial epigenetics array for livestock.
Constraints: Participants identified several constraints facing Alberta research in epigenetics and genomics. A common thread was the relative lack of funding for genomics (provincial and federal). This has left Alberta without a world-class shared genomics centre, like the facilities in Vancouver, Toronto, and Montreal, and their associated bioinformatics capacity. This lack of provincial funding and infrastructure support has lowered Alberta’s success rate in federal and international competitions. The AEN will work to reduce these constraints by supporting collaborative team research and presenting a coordinated case for more provincial and federal funding.
Conclusion: The Summit was a positive first step, one that help show that there is an enthusiastic community in Alberta interested in epigenetics research. The AEN has programs to support the development of collaborations arising out of this meeting and the AEN executive and members now face the challenge of addressing the identified constraints and pushing the AEN’s agenda forward.
Save the date: Banff was identified as the best location to hold the next annual Summit, sometime between March 20 and 30, 2016.
A full report on the Annual Summit can be found here: Link.