We gathered for our 2016 Molecular Genetics Retreat at Geneva Park YMCA, on September 21st-23rd.  The retreat was organized by Julie Lefebvre Jim Rini and Leah Cowen, with the assistance of Amanda Veri, Sabrina Stanley and their GSA team.  Our new Department Chair, Leah Cowen, organized an excellent scientific program of 15 faculty talks that captured the diversity and excellence of the research ongoing in MoGen.

 The retreat kicked off on Wednesday evening for first-year students and faculty members with a faculty-student mixer dinner and the always entertaining Power Hour.  Each faculty member was held to a strict 3-minute/1 slide presentation during which they could pitch their research to the students. Power Hour has become a retreat tradition and in this hilarious night we see how some PIs have perfected the art of timing and how some still have not. 

 On Thursday, the remaining attendees arrived for our largest turn-out yet: 42 PIs, 74 rotation students, 114 graduate students, 12 post-docs/staff, and 17 undergraduate MoGen specialists. The day began with opening remarks from Leah Cowen and 2 sessions of talks, including one by our newest MoGen faculty member, Jeehye Park. Our faculty-student sport showdown was diluted by rain, but a hardy group still went out for a friendly soccer game. The poster session followed in the late afternoon, with a record 110 presentations. The rooms were buzzing with MoGen members presenting their work or learning about their peers’ research. The quality of the poster session was impressive and illustrated the superb research being performed by our trainees. Poster judging turned out to be a tough task and 8 posters were selected for cash awards. Many thanks go out to all of the professors and senior graduate students who volunteered as judges.

And that was all before sundown. We followed with our Molecular Genetics portrait, and then dinner and the awards presentation. Dinner entertainment was once again provided by the GSA. Their clever take on the BBC’s “Would I Lie to You“, revealed some of our faculty’s bizarre or fabricated life experiences.  The celebrations went into the night at the fire pits and the Muskoka House and with music and dancing in the Barn.  With stamina we continued with another great set of talks on Friday morning.

Our 2016 retreat was another success! We thank the entire retreat organizing committee and the GSA for making the retreat one of the year's highlights. See you next year!

Poster winners

Xuefei Yuan and Dr. Leah Cowen

Xuefei Yuan and Dr. Leah Cowen

Ben Grys & Dr. Leah Cowen

Ben Grys & Dr. Leah Cowen

Co-1st place

Xuefei Yuan (Ian Scott &  M. Wilson labs)

From mammals to fish and back again: discovering new regulators of early cardiac development

Ben Grys (Brenda Andrews & Charlie Boone labs)

Global Analysis of Molecular Fluctuations Associated with Cell Cycle Progression in Saccharomyces cerevisiae.

Honourable Mentions

Minggao Liang (Michael Wilson lab)

 Rewiring of enhancer-gene interactions drives PLAU overexpression in the pathogenesis of Quebec Platelet Disorder

Azad Alizada (Michael Wilson lab)

Epigenetic Regulation and Evolution of Endothelial Cell Inflammation

Alyssa Molinaro (Bret Pearson lab)

A “nu” perspective on planarian stem cells

Fiona Bergin (Kenichi Okamoto lab)

Optogenetic control of Phosphodiesterase activity in living neurons

Tyler Luyben (Kenichi Okamoto lab)

Rapid cAMP signaling regulates postsynaptic modification underlying the synaptic plasticity of memory

Ernest Radovani (Greenblatt and T. Hughes labs)

Gene regulation by the human C2H2 zinc finger proteins