‘An enriching experience…’ With SICSA funding, student attended the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Conference on Genome Informatics

By Yuelin Yao

14 December 2023

I am a PhD student at the University of Edinburgh, School of Informatics. My recent visit to the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Conference on Genome Informatics during 6th to 9th December 2023, was an enriching experience that expanded my horizons in the realm of state-of-the-art computational approaches that are reshaping our understanding of the genome.

Exploring Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Founded in 1890, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has shaped contemporary biomedical research and education with programs in cancer, neuroscience, plant biology and quantitative biology, and it ranked among the leading basic research institutions in molecular biology and genetics, with Thomson Reuters ranking it #1 in the world. As I arrived at the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, a sense of excitement and anticipation filled the crisp autumn air.

Excellent Talks and Discussion

The conference commenced with a symphony of insights into the latest computational approaches driving genomic research, as well as future directions, encompassing both academic and industrial perspectives. Keynote speakers illuminated the audience with groundbreaking developments in algorithmic advancements, machine learning applications, and computational models that shine a light on the genome’s most hard-to-translate segments.

One notable session is the panel discussion titled NIH Early Stage Investigators. This engaging session brought together a diverse group of accomplished researchers and experts who shared valuable insights into the challenges and opportunities faced by early career investigators in our field. One of the key takeaways from the session was the in-depth exploration of NIH funding mechanisms. As I have entered the final year of my Phd, and prepare to embark on an independent career, understanding the intricacies of grant applications, the review process, and available resources at the NIH is paramount. The first-hand experiences and success stories in securing funding provided a roadmap that I can leverage as I venture into the next phase of my research journey.

Poster Sessions and Collaborations

The poster sessions at this conference were a vibrant showcase of cutting-edge research, featured a wide array of research topics, spanning from Single Cell Omics to Functional Genomics. The diversity of projects on display exposed me to a broad spectrum of computational biology research. This exposure was invaluable as it broadened my understanding of the field and inspired new perspectives on my own work.

I have presented my work: Stator, a novel model-independent method to identify cell states by quantifying higher-order interactions among genes during the poster session. It was a rewarding experience as I was able to talk with fellow researchers, established professionals, and even those outside my specific subfield, and received lots of constructive feedback. These interactions not only helped refine my research but also opened avenues for potential collaborations and interdisciplinary discussions.


I would like to express my sincere gratitude to the Scottish Informatics and Computer Science Alliance (SICSA) for providing the funding that made my attendance at the 2023 Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Conference on Genome Informatics possible.