Keynote Speakers: Greg Hampikian and Drew Endy

PSB 2009

Greg Hampikian Greg Hampikian
Professor of Biology and Criminal Justice Director of the Idaho Innocence Project
Boise State University

"DNA Don't Lie": How Bioinformatics freed some of my best friends, and sent the guilty to prison

The first use of DNA fingerprinting cleared a man who had confessed to a rape and murder that he did not commit. Since that day in 1986, DNA has released thousands of suspects, and freed more than 220 people from prison in the United States. Every year, new techniques are added to the arsenal of truth detection that has revolutionized crime fighting and set captives free. What are the lessons of this unique window into the justice system? What new ethical questions arise from our ever greater ability to track human debris? And what mistakes threaten to undermine the power and credibility of DNA evidence? The Bioinformatics community has the potential and the responsibility to show the world what is possible with its genetic data.

Dr. Greg Hampikian is a geneticist and nationally recognized expert in DNA forensics. He is also the co-author of Exit to Freedom, with Calvin Johnson. The book tells Mr. Johnson's miraculous tale of being freed from prison by DNA evidence after 17 years behind bars. Dr. Hampikian is currently a Professor at Boise State University with a joint appointment in Biology and Criminal Justice. He is also a Forensic Science Fellow in the Center for Applied Genetics and Technology at the University of Connecticut. Before moving to Idaho he held research and teaching positions at the Yale University Medical School, Emory University, La Trobe University in Australia, and the CDC. His laboratory at BSU works on forensics and bioterrorism detection, and he recently received a Department of Defense grant to pursue his invention for safeguarding DNA samples with molecular barcodes called Nullomers. He has published in leading scientific journals such as Nature and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, and his work has been covered by the Wall Street Journal, Fox News, CNN, Good Morning America, and He is the Director and Founder of the Idaho Innocence Project at Boise State University, and is a Board member of the Georgia Innocence Project.

Drew Endy Drew Endy
Assistant Professor, Department of Bioengineering
Stanford University

Post-Synthesis Genetics & Engineering Biological Simplicity

The science of genetics -- identifying functional elements encoded within natural heritable material -- both drives and responds to advances in technology. For example, prior to the invention and scale-up of DNA sequencing technology, most genetics research depended on the identification and mapping of mutants to loci. More recently, sequencing of genes and genomes has enabled complementary approaches for discovering novel genetic elements that depend on model-based pattern recognition. Looking forward, how will ongoing advances in DNA synthesis and construction technologies advance and respond to the science of genetics? What might the biocomputing communities do now to prepare for and help drive the emergence of a "post-synthesis" approach to genetics? Second, given improved tools and technologies for constructing DNA, how can the biological engineering communities best develop tools for managing the knowledge and information that defines what DNA sequences to construct, in support of many bioengineering applications? Can tools from discovery bioinformatics be repurposed along with lessons from electronic design automation in support of next-generation approaches to biotechnology?

Drew Endy is currently the Cabot Assistant Professor of Biological Engineering at MIT and a co-founder and President of the BioBricks Foundation (BBF). He will be moving to Stanford University's Bioengineering Department in September 2008. Drew earned degrees in civil, environmental, and biochemical engineering at Lehigh and Dartmouth. He studied genetics & microbiology as a postdoc at UT Austin and UW Madison. From 1998 through 2001 he helped to start the Molecular Sciences Institute, an independent not-for-profit biological research lab in Berkeley, CA. In 2002, he started a group as a fellow in the Department of Biology and the Biological Engineering Division at MIT; he joined the MIT faculty in 2004. Drew co-founded the MIT Synthetic Biology working group, the Registry of Standard Biological Parts, the International Genetically Engineering Machines competition, and organized the First International Conference on Synthetic Biology. In 2004 he co-founded Codon Devices, Inc., a biotechnology startup. In 2005 Endy co-founded the BioBricks Foundation, a not-for-profit organization that is working to develop legal and economic strategies needed to support open biotechnology. Drew's research interests are the engineering of integrated biological systems and error detection & correction in reproducing machines.

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