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Annual meeting supports NHGRI trainees in their research and careers

As always, April was a busy and exciting month for NHGRI and the genomics community. On April 25 and 26, the institute hosted multiple activities for National DNA Day, including the annual Louise M. Slaughter National DNA Day Lecture, which was given this year by Joe Palca, Ph.D., a science communicator and former NPR correspondent. A video of the lecture is available on our YouTube channel, GenomeTV.

Coming up this month is the 102nd meeting of the National Advisory Council for Human Genome Research, which will occur on May 20–21. I invite you to attend the open session of this council meeting on May 20, and further details about the agenda and ways to watch the open session will be available on our website.

Finally, I want to bring your attention to an upcoming NIH virtual workshop entitled Population Descriptors for Legacy Genomic Data: Challenges and Future Directions, which will be held on May 28–29. The workshop, hosted by several NIH institutes, centers, and offices, will explore the recommendations from the 2023 National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine report on population descriptors in genomics research. The event will be held over Zoom, and registration is required.  


All the best,


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Annual meeting supports NHGRI trainees in their research and careers

Trainees at the 2024 NHGRI Research Training and Career Development Annual Meeting


NHGRI is dedicated to fostering a strong and diverse genomics workforce. This is most directly pursued through the institute's suite of vigorous training programs, many of which convene each year for the NHGRI Research Training and Career Development Annual Meeting. This year, the meeting — which was organized by Susanne Haga, Ph.D., and her team at Duke University working in close collaboration with NHGRI — was held April 7–9 in Seattle, Washington. The meeting welcomed about 400 extramural trainees, training program directors and coordinators, and several additional guests.

The meeting is often the first scientific conference that many of the attending trainees experience. All of the trainees are encouraged to present their research in the poster sessions, providing an opportunity to share their work in a supportive environment and to gain valuable presentation skills. The attendees are invited to attend additional scientific programming, including those providing information about career development resources, in many cases tailored to the diverse career stages and paths of extramural trainees.

This year, this programming included a plenary panel discussion, moderated by NHGRI Director Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D., in which five distinguished Seattle-based genomics researchers talked about their career journeys and their thoughts about historic advances in genomics, such as the Human Genome Project. Two evening workshops were offered to introduce trainees to the Genomic Analysis, Visualization, and Informatics Lab-space (AnVIL) and ClinGen resources, and several panel discussions were dedicated to examining important ethical, legal, and social issues in contemporary genomics. These included sessions on equity in genomics research with indigenous peoples and the ethics and governance of gene editing.

For career development, undergraduates and postbaccalaureate trainees were invited to sessions on exploring career paths in genomics. There were also presentations about working in a scientific team that were aimed at graduate students, and postdoctoral fellows were offered a session on the skills necessary to move into the job market. The meeting also featured a mentorship lunch, where trainees had the opportunity to meet and speak with various senior scientists and NHGRI staff about their career paths.

The NHGRI Research Training and Career Development Annual Meeting has been an annual event since 2016. Since a career in research can at times seem daunting for those just embarking on this path, this event provides a venue to foster support and a sense of community for NHGRI-funded trainees, equipping them with tools for success and more clarity about career possibilities. The next annual meeting is planned for April 6–8, 2025 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

NIH welcomes new statue in celebration of National DNA Day

The Ladders DNA statue


On April 25, National DNA Day, NIH welcomed a new statue named The Ladder, which celebrates DNA and children. The statue and unveiling ceremony were hosted by the NIH Clinical Center, the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), and NHGRI. The Ladder was created by artist Mary Ellen Scherl, one of her many pieces that aims to use art to engage with social issues. The unveiling ceremony featured remarks from Monica Bertagnolli, M.D., NIH director; James Gilman, M.D., chief executive officer of the NIH Clinical Center; Diana Bianchi, M.D., NICHD director and NHGRI senior investigator; Frank Piatkowski, M.Arch., senior architect in the Office of Research Facilities; the artist; the artist’s half-brother John Constantino, M.D., a professor at Emory University School of Medicine; and Eric Green, M.D., Ph.D., NHGRI director.

NHGRI unveils new website for educational hub program

Young scientists


Last fall, NHGRI helped fund a new educational hub for early-career researchers in genomic data science. The hub aims to form relationships among partner sites to provide educational and research opportunities for undergraduate and master’s degree students. The program specifically focuses on bringing these resources to students enrolled at diverse institutions, including those that are underrepresented in genomics and data science. A new webpage about the hub program and its partner sites, current funding opportunities, and events and related institute activities is now available. Learn more about how the educational hub aims to address barriers in computational genomics and data science education on the new webpage.

Julie Segre elected as an AAAS Fellow

Julie Segre


Julie Segre, Ph.D., NIH distinguished investigator and chief of the Translational and Functional Genomics Branch, has been elected as a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), one of the world’s largest scientific societies and publisher of the journal Science. The AAAS Fellows program aims to celebrate scientific excellence and long-term research achievements across a broad range of disciplines. Dr. Segre is being recognized for her work studying the human skin microbiome and using genomics to track hospital-acquired infections. Dr. Segre is one of six NIH investigators to receive this honor this year, which also marks the 150th anniversary of the fellows program.

Genomics Research Spotlight

The variation and evolution of complete human centromeres 
Logsdon, et al. 
Nature, 2024 Apr, PMID: 38570684


Centromeres, the regions that help chromosomes separate during cell division, play important roles in cell biology and the development of certain diseases, like cancer. Centromeres have long been challenging to characterize due to the highly repetitive nature of their DNA sequence. However, recent advances in DNA sequencing technologies and analysis methods have greatly advanced the abilities of scientists to study these repetitive regions. Previously, only once before had the centromeres of all chromosomes from a human genome been sequenced, a product of the Telomere-to-Telomere Consortium, published in 2022. This new study provides a complete set of centromere sequences from a second human genome. Comparing between the two sets of centromere sequences, the researchers found notable variation in the number of certain types of DNA repeats. The researchers also sequenced the centromeres of several chromosomes from three non-human primate species, chimpanzee, orangutan, and macaque. These additional centromere sequences revealed interesting interspecies variation. For example, the chimpanzee centromere sequences have significantly fewer repeats than the human centromere sequences. Additionally, the orangutan centromere sequences have an unusual structure compared to those of the other species. While the centromeres of humans, chimpanzees, and macaques are primarily composed of one specific repeating DNA sequence, the orangutan centromeres have three to four distinct repeating DNA sequences, creating a “mosaic” pattern. Understanding the structures and sequences of human and other primate centromeres can help reveal how these important chromosome elements evolved. 


This research was funded in part by the NHGRI Intramural Research Program and was performed in the laboratory of Adam Phillippy, Ph.D. This research was also funded in part by the NIH with a grant to Evan Eichler, Ph.D., who is a professor at the University of Washington in the Department of Genome Sciences; that grant is part of the NIH Research Project Grant (PA-20-185). 

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About The Genomics Landscape

A monthly update from the NHGRI Director on activities and accomplishments from the institute and the field of genomics.

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Last updated: May 2, 2024