Advances in genomic technology and significant decrease in the associated costs are driving progress in genetic studies. Studies of whole exome and genome sequences of complex traits in large samples are becoming increasingly common. Other sources of high-dimensional information, including expression, epigenetic, metabolic and microbiomic data, are also being commonly collected in disease and healthy samples. To fully understand the complex bases of human disease and normal phenotypic variability, all of these factors should be properly considered in a unified analytical framework, together with epidemiological data on environmental exposures and other risk factors. To discuss how to address the analytical challenges presented by these sources of data, we propose a series of annual symposia to be held in Philadelphia on the campus of the University of Pennsylvania, and hence named Symposium on Advances in Genomics, Epidemiology, and Statistics (SAGES). Our objectives are to favor development of analytical methods to bridge the gap between emerging technologies and data analysis in genomics and related fields; to encourage exchange and collaboration between methodological and applied scientists; and to foster training of young investigators by giving access to our conference to the largest possible number and promoting their active participation and interaction with the more senior participants. Our first two symposi were held in 2013 on Methods and Applications in the Next Generation Sequencing Age, and in 2014 on Integrated Systems Biology Analytical Methods for Epidemiological Studies of Complex Traits. We will follow up on these successful events with the 2015 Symposium on Beyond DNA Sequencing: Emerging Challenges in Quantitative Genomic Analysis. We will invite 8 speakers chosen among experts working in US institutions, including both theoretical and applied scientists. Participants will be invited to submit an abstract with their registration, and we will have a poster session for them to present their current research. We will precede each symposium with a half-day workshop that will include hands-on computer training using genetic analysis software related to the methods presented at the symposium. In 2015, the theme of the workshop will be on analysis of rare variants from next-gen sequencing data. Each subsequent year we will select topics in the area of statistical and epidemiological methods related to genomics and other high-dimensional data based on perceived interest and potential impact on research. Specifically, our themes for 2016 and 2017 are: Clinical and Public Health Impact of Genomic Studies; and Population and Evolutionary Genomics and Their Implications for Disease Studies. Our final goal is to promote the development of methodologies and collaborations that will further our understanding of the complex mechanisms responsible for human disorders.
Advances in analytical methods for genomics and other high-dimensional data fields are strongly needed. We propose a series of yearly symposia on statistics and genetic epidemiology that will promote and facilitate development of such methods, interaction and collaborations among scientists, and training of young investigators in these areas of research.