5th Central-Eastern European Congress on Cell-Free Nucleic Acids
21-22 June 2018
Life Science Building, University of Debrecen, Debrecen

Invited speakers

Folkert W. Asselbergs

Cardiologist, Professor of Cardiovascular Genetics, University Medical Center Utrecht, Professor of Precision Medicine in Cardiovascular Disease, UCL. Professor Asselbergs published more than 230 scientific papers and obtained funding from British and Dutch Heart Foundation, EU (FP7, ERA-CVD, IMI, BBMRI), and RO1 National Institutes of Health. His research program in complex genetics focuses on the discovery of genes influencing susceptibility to cardiovascular disease; the application of these findings for the validation of drug targets; and the use of genetic tests for treatment targeting (stratified medicine). Dr Asselbergs is member of a large number of consortia and (co-) founded several consortia of which igenetrain (www.igenetrain.net), and genius-chd (www.genius-chd.org) are the most prominent and recent ones. In line with his scientific work, Dr. Asselbergs aims to facilitate collaboration at an international level through his work at the Durrer Center of Cardiogenetic research. The Durrer Center is a national multidisciplinary collaboration that aims to
provide expertise, infrastructure and services for collecting, comparing, harmonizing and merging results from individual cardiovascular studies (www.durrercenter.nl).

Howard Stephen Cuckle
Educated in the Universities of Oxford and Leeds, he is a visiting associate professor of the Obstetrics and Gynecology, Tel Aviv University, Israel; adjunct professor at Obstetrics and Gynecology, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, USA and emeritus professor of Reproductive Epidemiology, University of Leeds, UK. He is member of the editorial boards of several journals and has 475 publications in various books and medical journals. The central focus of his research is screening and current projects are largely concerned with screening for Down’s syndrome and adverse outcome of pregnancy such as early preeclampsia. The principial research technique is the linked biological and data bank. Banked material (blood, urine, slides, cells and DNA) is collected from pathological pregnancies and routinely from large numbers of apparently normal pregnancies. Screening markers are investigated either prospectively on all samples or in retrospective case-control subsets. A large network of collaborators in the field provides access to vast amounts of data and samples.

Christoph W. Sensen
He is the Head of the Institute of Computational Biotechnology (https://www.tugraz.at/institute/icbt/home/) at Graz University of Technology in Austria. He is also the Chief Scientific Officer of CNA Diagnostics Inc. (Calgary, AB, Canada) and GmbH (Grambach, Austria) (http://cnadiagnostics.com/). Born in Germany, Dr. Sensen studied Biology in Germany and after a brief stay as a Visiting Scientist at EMBL Heidelberg, worked for more than 20 years in Canada, initially as a Government Scientist at the National Research Council of Canada and later as a tenured Full Professor for Bioinformatics at the University of Calgary's Faculty of Medicine. Since the fall of 2014, Dr. Sensen and his wife Maria (who was born in Szentistvan, Hungary) live and work in Graz, Austria. Dr. Sensen's research interests are mainly focused on high-throughput Genomics and Bioinformatics research and development. His laboratory operates one of the largest high-performance computational installations dedicated to Bioinformatics analyses in Austria. Dr. Sensen is also the speaker of the Austrian Bioinformatics Platform ATBI (http://bioinformatik.at/). For several years, the Sensen laboratory is working on the characterization of circulating nucleic acids, initially in the context of the outbreak of Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) in Alberta, Canada and now on the topic of identifying serum-based markers for a number of chronic and infectious diseases.

Erik A. Sistermans
He studies chemistry between 1983 and 1989 at the State University in Leiden. During his study he specialized in molecular genetics. He spent 6 months at the University Pierre and Marie Curie, Paris to study immunology and virology. Following his graduation he moved to the Catholic University of Nijmegen as PhD student. He started to work at the Department of Human Genetics, while the last three years were spent at the Department of Cell Biology and Histology. He obtained his PhD degree in 1966, the title of the thesis was “Murine creatine kinase B: cell –type specific expression and biochemical role”.
He started to work as clinical laboratory geneticist at the section of DNA Diagnostics of the Department of Human Genetics in Nijmegen in 1994. He specialized in the genetics of intellectual disability and neurological disorders. He moved to the VU University Medical Center in 2007, and became head of the section of Genome Diagnostics at the Department of Clinical Genetics. He was appointed to be the deputy head of the department.
He was the member of the Steering Committee of the United Kingdom External Quality Assessment Schemes for Molecular Genetics (UK-NEQAS). He is assessor of the Friedrich Ataxia best practice scheme of the European Molecular Genetics Quality Network (EMQN) and he is member of the specialist advisory group of the joined cytogenetics and molecular genetics scheme for rapid aneuploidy detection of UK-NEQUAS). He is the chair of the Clinical Genetics steering group of the Hartwig Medical Foundation, and project leader of the TRIDENT study which aims at implementing NIPT in The Netherlands.