DC | Dinner with a BDP, Michael Schatz - What tomatoes can teach us about genetic diversity

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Affinity Programs and the Office of Research present Dinner with a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor | Mike Schatz, PhD

Join us for an evening of dinner and discussion with Michael Schatz, one of the world’s foremost experts in solving computational problems in genomics research. Hosted by Laurie Singer, Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center Advisory Board member whose passion for the discovery of a cure for cancer is truly personal.

Schedule of Activities

We will welcome you to the Copper Canyon Grill in Gaithersburg where you will be received by the JHU staff. You'll then depart via shuttle to The Belward Farm  - a Hopkins owned farm in the heart of Montgomery County - where you'll enjoy a brief history of the farm and get a taste of Mike's research, both figuratively and literally, as we guide you through a brief intro to genomics alongside a tomato tasting.

At sunset, we'll return to Copper Canyon via the shuttle and continue the evening with seated dinner whilst Mike takes a deeper dive into his work with tomatoes and how sequence variations relate to human diseases like cancer and autism. 

A little more about the research

Why tomatoes? The tomato is among the most valuable crops plants with more than 175 million tons of the fruit, valued at around $85 billion, produced globally each year. Recently, Michael Schatz and his colleagues set out to use long-read sequencing technologies, computational biology, and functional studies for finding and characterizing structural variants in tomato for future studies on everything from natural variation and domestication to crop improvement. In the abstract for Schatz's presentation, he and his co-authors suggested that the same strategy used for the tomato structural variant pan-genome study "will become the new gold standard for [structural variant] analysis in all species."

In his research, Michael Schatz also examines sequence variations related to autism spectrum disorders, cancer, and other human diseases in order to reveal their genetic basis and evolution. He has also recently embarked on creating new computational methods for analyzing single-molecule sequencing, especially plant and animal genomes and transcriptomes, which are the sets of expressed genes in an organism.

We hope you'll join us for an evening of education and exploration with a true Hopkins leader!




Michael Schatz

Featured Speaker, Michael Schatz

Michael Schatz is the Bloomberg Distinguished Associate Professor of Computational Biology. He is an expert at large-scale computational examination of DNA sequencing data, including the alignment, assembly, and analysis of next-generation sequencing reads. These methods have been used to reconstruct the genomes of previously unsequenced organisms, probe sequence variations, and explore a host of biological features across the tree of life. Schatz is particularly interested in capitalizing on the latest advances in distributed and parallel computing, especially cloud computing technologies, to advance the state of the art in bioinformatics and genomics. In a recent breakthrough, Schatz was able to create a hybrid software-based solution to eliminate errors in so-called third-generation sequencing. This makes it remarkably easier to compile, align, and analyze full-genome sequences.

Schatz joined Johns Hopkins in 2016 from the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory where he remains an adjunct associate professor. He has received Sloan Fellowship, NSF CAREER Award, and Genome Technology’s 2010 Young Investigator of the Year.


Laurie Singer

Host, Laurie Singer Sievers

Laurie Singer Sievers is an award-winning network television news producer having won six Edward R. Murrow Awards and a National Emmy.  She has produced numerous news programs for CBS, NBC and ABC, covering six Olympic Games, 12 Super Bowls, 12 World Series and 10 NCAA Final Four Tournaments.

She considers herself one of the lucky ones to have seen the world from a front-row seat as a journalist, covering everything from major sporting events to world leaders in her 40 years of working television news. She began her career as one of the country’s first female sportscasters and most recently produced award-winning segments for “Bob Dotson’s American Story” on NBC’s “The Today Show.”

Laurie’s toughest and most challenging assignment began in 2001 when her husband, Leroy Sievers was diagnosed with stage-4 colon cancer. It was then that Leroy, who was the Executive Producer for ABC NEWS “Nightline” began his “My Cancer” blog on the NPR website. The blog was a very personal, daily account of living with cancer and when the disease took Leroy’s life in 2008, Laurie continued the blog, now called “Our Cancer.” Laurie serves on the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center Advisory Board and has produced several video projects for the Cancer Center including  “Chemo School…” a guide designed to help cancer patients just entering chemotherapy; a caregivers’ video series called “Walking on Eggshells;” and “C-Answers,” a video series intended to introduce the faculty and staff of the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center.