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Dr. Johan Bjorkegren, MD PhD, Second Keynote Speaker


“Toward clinical systems genetics to diagnose and treat disease-driving networks of complex diseases” – Johan Bjorkegren, MD PhD

Second Keynote Speaker, May 28th 2014

The goal of my research is to use multi-modal big data analysis to create new and more reliable network models of human biology and disease that can be used to predict and monitor diseases and their therapies. To this effort, I have created clinical datasets of cardiovascular disease patients enriched for many of these data modalities including imaging, genomics and careful clinical characteristics (www.cardiovasculargenomics.se).

I have a broad background in the design of functional genomic clinical studies to elucidate the complexity of disease. I have also been active in a wide range of cardiovascular disease (CVD)-related research areas extending from my early work in exploring the role of triglyceride-rich lipoproteins in coronary artery disease (CAD) to my post-doctoral studies establishing the hepatic gene microsomal triglyceride transfer protein (Mttp), as a key target to lower plasma cholesterol levels and reduce atherosclerosis in studies of mice.

After this early research, I have mainly conducted clinical studies of CAD with a systems biological and data-intensive focus. In 2002, I was among the first clinical scientist to apply the emerging molecular profiling technologies (mainly global gene expression studies) to large cohorts of patients with complex diseases. The focus of these studies is on the role of functionally associated genes in molecular networks driving disease. These studies have resulted in several high-end publications, and in one of the world’s most unique CAD-related datasets generated on human subjects (the STARNET cohort). The STARNET datasets today consists of RNA sequence data from up to nine disease- relevant tissues isolated from up to one thousand clinically well–characterized patients. This unique dataset is main data resource for inference of network models that we believe can change the landscape for how we today predict risk and clinical outcomes in CAD.

My entrepreneurial achievements include starting northern Europe’s first OTC personal DNA testing company (DNA-Guide Europa AB, 2008) and since 2003, I have founded and led the work in Clinical Gene Networks AB (CGN, www.clinicalgenenetworks.com); a company seeking to explore network models for common complex diseases to develop the next generation of preventive and personalized therapies and diagnostics.

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