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G2MC Conference: An Update from Santiago

The 5th Global Genomic Medicine Collaborative (G2MC) Conference is less than six months away, and the planning committee is hard at work organizing the event which will be held in Santiago, Chile May 6-8, 2020 with a “G2MC Bootcamp” planned for May 9. Leaders in genomic medicine across the globe will be attending this highly interactive meeting to define collaborative projects and strategies that will serve the global community to implement genomic advances to improve clinical care.  This is the first G2MC conference to be organized in South America and will focus on the implementation of Genomic Medicine in low resource settings.

We spoke with local host and planning committee co-chair, Gabriela Repetto, from the Center for Genetics and Genomics and Professor at Universidad del Desarrollo to learn more about the conference and the profound impacts it is expected to have on the local community, attendees, and the future of genomic medicine.

Gabriela, why was Chile chosen for this year’s conference, and why is the location important in regards to the mission of G2MC? 

G2MC´s mission is to foster the implementation of Genomic Medicine (GM) globally, and recognizing how heterogeneous the situation is around the world, has placed an explicit focus in regions where GM has not yet been explicitly incorporated into health care. This is the situation of low and middle income countries (LMICs) and was the theme for the very successful meeting in Cape Town, South Africa. At the end of the Cape Town meeting, several delegates very enthusiastically volunteered to host the next meeting in their countries, and with the support of the G2MC co-chairs, Catalina Lopez-Correa, George Patrinos and Geoff Ginsburg, the decision was made to bring G2MC to Latin America. The meeting has been organized around 4 themes: Genomic Landscape in Latin America, Rare Disorders, Common Disorders, and Solutions to Roadblocks that address issues regarding implementation around the world.

What about the unrest in Santiago? What impacts, if any, do you perceive this could have on the conference?

Chile and other Latin American countries are currently facing substantial social  and political unrest of complex origin, but mostly in response to inequalities and corruption. We are monitoring the local situation closely to make sure that the meeting takes place in an environment that is safe for participants, and in which speakers and audiences are not discouraged from attending. We are hopeful that the political situation will be resolved by next May, but are also examining alternative venue locations in South America and will keep in-touch with meeting speakers and registrants should it be necessary to change locations.

That being said, we also consider the impact the meeting itself will have on society and the local community for example, the conversations, analysis, GM projects and collaborations fostered by G2MC, and engagement with local stakeholders during the meeting, can greatly contribute to improvements in health care delivery, which is among the top concerns of Chileans.

Could you tell me about the Young Investigators Forum? Is this a new event, and why is it an important part of the conference?

This will be the second version of the Young Investigators Forum (YIF) – the first was in the 2018 meeting in Cape Town. This activity will kick off the G2MC conference, and has the purpose of fostering the development, growth and mentoring of the next generation of researchers, clinicians, and policy makers in genomic medicine implementation. Young Investigators are invited to submit abstracts describing their work in the field, and will be selected for platform or poster presentations. We hope our G2MC members will encourage the participation of Young Investigators from their institutions. Abstracts are currently being accepted and can be submitted here.

Are there any specific events that will take place at the conference that should be highlighted? Specifically, could you tell me about the boot camp that will take place that Saturday?

The week of May 4 will be a very busy and attractive period for activities in Genomic Medicine in Chile. The International 100K Cohorts Consortium (IHCC) will hold their 3rd International Cohorts Summit in Santiago on May 4-5, with a focus on large population initiatives. Following,  the G2MC meeting will take place on May 6-8 focusing on GM implementation, and ending on May 9 with a Genomic Medicine bootcamp for clinicians. The bootcamp, an educational activity targeting local health care providers, will be led by Jeanette McCarthy and Geoff Ginsburg, and geared towards clinical use of genomic tools for specialists in different areas including cardiology, psychiatry, oncology, and pediatrics.

What impact do you perceive the conference will have on the local community and local educators in Chile, and how can they use it to build on genomic medicine research and implementation?

We have great expectations about the results of this meeting. This will be an opportunity for local clinicians, researchers, patients, and policy makers to share their work and to interact with leaders from other countries. The program will show a wide variety of strategies being implemented around the world, so that participants will be able to learn about and gain inspiration from a breadth of initiatives and best practices. We hope that many collaborations will stem from the meeting, to gain new G2MC members from Latin America, and to contribute to a growing community of young investigators in the field. We also expect that the initiatives from the G2MC working groups will incorporate participants from the region.


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