InCoB 2020 Keynote and Plenary Speakers

Speaker Profile

Guojun Sheng

Professor Kumamoto UniversityInternational Research Center for Medical Sciences (IRCMS),
Website: Google Scholar
Photo of Guojun Sheng

Biographical Info

Biographical Info:

Dr. Guojun Sheng is a professor at the International Research Center for Medical Sciences and the Graduate School of Medical Sciences in Kumamoto University (Japan). He obtained his Ph.D. in developmental genetics from the Rockefeller University (U.S.A.) in 1997 and received his postdoctoral training in molecular embryology at Columbia University (U.S.A.) and University College London (U.K.). Before joining Kumamoto University in late 2015, Dr. Sheng had directed the Laboratory for Early Embryogenesis at RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology (Japan), first as a Team Leader (2004-2014) and then as a Senior Investigator (2014-2015). Dr. Sheng currently serves as the president of “the Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition International Association” (TEMTIA) (2019-2021) and editor-in-chief of the journal “Cells Tissues Organs” (Karger Publishers) (2018-). He is also actively involved in undergraduate- and graduate-level science education and in promoting cross-cultural and cross-disciplinary collaboration in scientific research. Dr. Sheng’s laboratory uses the avian model to study cellular and molecular mechanisms regulating cell fate changes during early embryonic development. His research focuses on the epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) process during mesoderm differentiation and the hematopoietic, vascular and smooth muscle cell lineage specification during early cardiovascular and hematopoietic system formation.

Title: Omics resources and tools in under-represented animal models: a bird’s eye view


From Darwin’s theory of evolution to seasonal flu vaccines, birds occupy an important niche in modern biological research. The first bird genome, of the chicken Gallus gallus, was sequencing in 2004. This was followed by that of the zebra finch in 2010 and today there are over 50 avian genomes that have been sequenced and are publicly accessible. However, avian models are in general not well suited for genetics-based research and as a consequence, tools for functional annotations of the avian omics resources, based on both wet and dry analyses, are limited.  For example, for G. gallus, the most updated version of genome assembly (galGal6) still lacks information on six microchromosomes, and data on gene models, full-length RNA-seq, non-coding RNAs, transcription start sites, intron-exon boundaries and epigenetics-level information are very limited and poorly integrated with the genome assembly data. For avian labs more focused on investigating biological, rather than bioinformatic problems, it is challenging to make the best use of available, fragmented resources in their respective study. I will use our lab’s work on avian early development as an example to highlight how our research projects can be helped by better collaboration and integration with bioinformatics-minded experts.

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