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Upcoming events hosted by or involving Genetics Otago will be listed here. Please check back regularly for updates. A calendar of events that may be of interest to our members can be found at the bottom of this page and in the sidebar of other pages on this site, please note that this includes events hosted outside of Genetics Otago.

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VISG Seminar Series

The Virtual Institute of Statistical Genetics (VISG) Hub is a key part of Genetics Otago, providing a platform for researchers to collaborate and exchange knowledge and expertise in statistical genetics. The VISG Hub hosts seminars, workshops, and other events to promote statistical genetics research and foster collaboration between researchers.

We’re excited to announce our monthly genetics research seminars, aimed at connecting researchers in the field. The seminars will commence in May 2023 and will be hosted by GO’s Virtual Institute of Statistical Genetics (VISG) Hub along with the Department of Mathematics and Statistics at the University of Otago. These seminars will be available in person or via Zoom, and all are welcome.

Date: 3rd Thursday of the month
Time: 11:00 am – 12:00 pm


  • May: Associate Professor Phil Wilcox, University of Otago
  • June: Professor Mik Black, University of Otago
  • July: Dr Ludovic Dutoit, University of Otago
  • August: Dr Setegn Alemu, AgResearch
  • September: Ee Cheng Oi, Abacus Bio
  • October: Franziska Weik, Beef + Lamb NZ Genetics
  • November: Dr Jane Symonds and Dr Megan Scholtens, Cawthron

Zoom Details
If you would like the Zoom details for this event, please contact us.

June Seminar

The seminar will be held on the 15th of June in BI.G13, Biochemistry Building and will be given by Professor Mik Black of the Department of Biochemistry, University of Otago.

Title: Help! My genome turned into a graph…
Abstract: The recent release of a “draft human pangenome reference” has been hailed as providing access to a “more diverse human genome”. The incorporation of additional genetic diversity into what was previously a very non-diverse human reference genome was achieved through the use of “genome graph” methodology. Available in various forms for around five years now, methods for constructing genome graphs provide the ability to store both genomic sequence and genetic variation for any organism in a single graph-based representation of a genome, with additional genetic diversity (e.g., single-nucleotide variants (SNVs) and structural variants (SVs)) able to be added to an existing graph. This graph-based approach provides some major advantages over traditional linear reference approaches, however there are also a number of challenges that must be overcome for this methodology to become widely accepted. In this talk I will provide an overview of the current “linear reference” approach to genomic analysis, contrasting this with the additional opportunities offered by graph-based methodology. I will also present the results of work undertaken within the Genome Graphs project that has been funded by Genomics Aotearoa, where a graph-based approach has been applied in the area of pathogen genomics.

Biography: Professor Black is a member of the Centre for Translational Cancer Research, and his research focuses on the development of methods for the analysis of genomic data, with a strong emphasis on cancer and other human diseases. A common theme is the use of techniques that allow high-dimensional and often very disparate data sets to be combined in ways that provide new insights into disease development and progression:
Centre for Translational Cancer Research

This research is highly collaborative, and Mik works closely with a number of Otago research groups, as well as with long-standing national and international collaborators at the University of Auckland, the Institute of Environmental Science and Research, Wake Forest University Medical School, and Moffitt Cancer Center.

In addition to his own work, Mik has been heavily involved in establishing national research infrastructure in high performance computing through the NZ eScience Infrastructure, and in genomics and bioinformatics through Genomics Aotearoa, where he is the Chair of the Bioinformatics Leadership Team:
NZ eScience Infrastructure
Genomics Aotearoa

If you have any questions about this seminar series please contact us.

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