The power of a single cell

Published: 2016-04-28


The theme for today’s SciLifeLab Science Summit was single cell analyses, from microbes to human brain. A number of researchers both from within and outside of SciLifeLab highlighted this complex subject and offered insight into their research.

 

Olli Kallioniemi, Director of SciLifeLab, introduced the summit with a summary of what is currently going on at SciLifeLab. Caroline Gallant, Head of Facility at Single Cell Proteomics, presented the service and technologies that SciLifeLab offers within single cell research. The rest of the summit focused on scientific presentations by numerous researchers.

John Marioni from EMBL-EBI, Sanger Institute & CRUK Cambridge Institute, presented his research on early mammalian development using single-cell transcriptomics. His group has investigated the gastrulation phase of the embryonic development, where the embryo cells diversify into different cell types and a basic body plan is established. The group constructed an epigenetic and transcriptional roadmap from the pluripotent cells to the first stages of organs.

“Our analysis of null embryos shows how single-cell RNA sequencing can provide a widely applicable approach for re-evaluating the function of key regulators”, said John Marioni.

In another talk Maria Kasper, from Karolinska Institutet, presented her research on hair follicles and skin, where single cell transcriptomics has been an important method. “We are interested in how stem cells maintain and repair the epidermis and how stem cell dysfunction leads to tumorigenesis”, said Maria Kasper.

During breaks the audience had the opportunity to visit the art exhibition where art and science met through e.g. paintings and shawls with scientific motifs. One of the art contributions was a music piece by William Benckert, a student at the Royal College of Music, interpreting single cell research into sound. The music was first presented as an audio recording and then performed live on grand piano, base and drums.

In the afternoon a scientific highlight contest was held. Ten SciLifeLab papers from 2015 competed for the prize, based on both the scientific quality of the paper and the presentation held by one of the authors. The audience voted after the presentations and chose the first prizewinner to be “Complex archaea that bridge the gap between prokaryotes and eukaryotes” presented by Anja Spang. Second prize went to “Structural genomic changes underlie alternative reproductive strategies in the ruff (Philomachus pugnax)” presented by Sangeet Lamichhaney. A shared third prize went to “Genetic studies of body mass index yield new insights for obesity biology” presented by Tove Fall and “Protein profiling reveals consequences of lifestyle choices on predicted biological aging” presented by Stefan Enroth.

After the summit all guests were welcome to join the weekly Postdoc pub organized by Postdocs at SciLifeLab.

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The papers that won “2015 SciLifeLab Scientific highlights”:

The abstract book for the SciLifeLab Sicence Summit 2015