May 2024: The 18th Annual Retreat of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Bioinformatics

The 18th annual retreat of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Bioinformatics took place on May 22-23, 2024 in Ye'arim, Ma'ale Ha'Chamisha.

May 2024: The 18th Annual Retreat of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Bioinformatics

The 18th annual retreat of the Edmond J. Safra Center for Bioinformatics took place on May 22-23, 2024 in Ye'arim, Ma'ale Ha'Chamisha.


The bioinformatics community at TAU got together for two days of scientific and social activities. The program included short scientific talks, one-minute poster highlights, two poster sessions, a mixer in small groups, a musical workshop, games, and poster prizes.


The 160 participants included faculty members, graduate students, and second- and third-year undergraduate students of the bioinformatics program. The scientific program of the retreat included two keynote talks. One, by Prof. Uri Alon, from the Dept. of Molecular Cell Biology in Weizmann Institute, who gave a fascinating talk titled "Systems medicine". The second keynote speaker was Prof. Varda Shalev, Managing Partner in Team8 Health, who gave an exciting talk titled "Beyond Luck: Scaling company-building success in a repeatable innovation process".


In addition to his keynote talk, Prof. Uri Alon gave another presentation, speaking about "Love and fear in the lab: Guitar and discussion on the emotional side of science". During this presentation, Prof. Alon played the guitar and shared with us his thoughts on the emotional aspects of doing science.


Three talks were given by faculty members. Edmond J. Safra affiliate, Dr. Yaara Oren, from the Faculty of Medicine, who talked about "Beyond Darwin: Understanding cancer persister cells". New Edmond J. Safra member, Dr. Jérôme Tubiana, from the School of Computer Science, talked about "Harnessing generative models for peptide binder design". Finally, Prof. David Sprinzak, Edmond J. Safra affiliate from the Life Sciences Faculty, talked about "A two state model for transcriptional bursting".


In addition, two bioinformatics graduate students gave fascinating short talks on their research. Yadid Algavi (Borenstein lab, Medicine), gave a talk titled "Microbial dispersion in the human gut through the lens of fecal transplant". Tal Ben-Yishay, Edmond J. Safra MSc fellow (Ben-David lab, Medicine, and Shamir lab, Computer Science) talked about "Characterizing chromothripsis in human cancer".


This year, for the first time, undergraduates were invited to give flash talks, featuring research projects conducted as part of the bioinformatics study program. Four undergraduate bioinformatics students presented their research. Ido Fabian (Stern lab, Life Sciences) talked about "Mutational dynamics in chronic infection of SARS-CoV-2: inferring population bottlenecks". Ofri Kestin (Madi lab, Medicine) gave a talk titled "Immune cell crosstalk disrupted: Effects of eosinophil absence in the tumor microenvironment". Maya Metzger (Borenstein lab, Computer Science) talked about "Ranking the gut microbiome's grandmasters: A novel chess-based algorithm for identifying associations between gut microbes and disease". Tomer Oron (Ram lab, Life Sciences), talked about "Revisiting Macmanus 1985 genetic model of human handedness".


The program included two lively poster sessions presenting 50 posters. Each session was preceded by a highlight session, where each poster presenter had one minute to introduce it, using one slide. The presentations were highly creative and original. For the full poster list click here. The retreat's participants, PIs and students, were invited to vote for the best posters. For the poster prizes' winners click here.


As in past retreats, the program also included a mixer session, where PIs and students randomly divided into small groups, gathered on the lawn, and discussed various meta-scientific topics. This session provided an opportunity for students from all degrees to meet each other and PIs in an informal manner and to discuss subjects of common interest.


The main extra-curricular activity was a music workshop named "Beatogether" performed by Yigael Filler, an actor and a musician. The artist presented various percussion instruments from all over the world, invited participants to try playing on them. In the last part of the workshop each participant received a percussion instrument, for a lively music and dance session. After the performance, the participants gathered outside on the lawn for social games prepared by the committee members.


The organizing committee included Prof. Uri Ben-David (Chair), Dr. Yaara Oren, Prof. Adi Stern, graduate students Arielle Cohen, Itai Fabian, Yael Maoz, Ron Saad, Gay Wolf, and undergraduate students Shay Barak and Maya Cohen.


We got excellent responses from the participants. We are very proud of our community and students!


For pictures click here.





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