New Online School on Population Genetics and Analysis
The HSE International Laboratory of Statistical and Computational Genomics has launched an online school for applied population genetics and analysis. The school does not require special knowledge in biology and is aimed at students, graduate students, and postdocs in mathematics, physics, and computer programming.
From September 17, 2020 until November 19, 2020, the school will feature lectures in English by the Laboratory’s leading international specialists, including Rasmus Nielson, Thorfinn Korneliussen, and Russell Corbett-Detig.
Vladimir Shchur, Head of the International Laboratory of Statistical and Computational Genomics
We are interested in a wide variety of tasks related to the study of genomes, and, in particular, the development of new mathematical models and methods for analyzing genomic data. We employ probability theory, statistics, machine learning, and numerical methods. For example, we are interested in questions of the history of population development. In genomes we observe traces of genetic bottlenecks, or moments when there was a significant decrease in population size, as observed when a small group of our ancestors left Africa, and their descendants settled the rest of the globe. In every non-African genome, we see a trace of this event. We are looking for traces of ancient introgression or mixing of populations (for example, Neanderthals and Denisovans).
Most recently, due to the pandemic, we have been studying the epidemiology and population of the of the novel coronavirus in Russia in collaboration with colleagues from Skoltech and the Research Institute of Influenza in St. Petersburg.
One of my works attracted the attention of not only the scientific community, but also the press. In 2018, in the US, a Californian serial killer who operated from 1979-1985 was detained. It was possible to trace him thanks to the ability to search his genetic relatives via open sources. Were the police just lucky? It turned out, they weren’t. My results showed that this method inevitably should have led to the arrest of the criminal, and soon several more cold cases were solved.
Why HSE University?
HSE is a very dynamic and actively developing university. In my opinion, this is the most promising university in Russia. Here there is an opportunity to pursue new interesting ideas, and strong scientists work here. HSE reminds me of Berkeley: both in its active self-positioning as a source of liberal ideas, and in its scope.
Moscow is known for its strong school of mathematics, physics, and programming, and these competencies are very much needed in Russian research. In addition, there are a lot of archaeological finds in Russia that contain ancient DNA (human, mammoth, etc.). But most of the data is analyzed abroad. The opinions of our archaeologists who make these discoveries are often ignored by Western schools. This is certainly not fair. Rasmus Nielsen, Acacemic Supervisor of our lab, sares this opinion and supports the initiative to analyze this data within our country.
To make our team even stronger (Rasmus runs his own laboratory and is involved in many other projects, so he cannot spend much time in Russia), we invited two more colleagues to the project: Thorfinn Korneliussen from the University of Copenhagen and Russ Corbett-Detiga from the University of Santa Cruz (both previously worked in Rasmus's laboratory). Thorfinn and Russ have their own groups at the University of Copenhagen and UC Santa Cruz, respectively. At that time, I was already involved in joint projects with them.
We are all specialists in different fields: Thorfinn works in computer science and data processing, and Russ is a computational biologist. Thus, we complement each other, resulting in an interdisciplinary team.
Now we are establishing cooperation between laboratories not only at the level of leading scientists, but also at the level of graduate students and students. Thus, a graduate student of Rasmus’s is training our research assistant in methods of modern and ancient DNA population analysis. Our team is responsible for mathematical and computer modeling and the development of new methods.
Assistant Professor, Department of Biomolecular Engineering, University of California, Santa Cruz
In collaboration with Vladimir Shchur we developed both theory and practical computational methods to study a process called adaptive introgression. Briefly, when two populations hybridize, sometimes a gene from one species experiences natural selection—in this context, we call this adaptive introgression. Vladimir's group led the development of theoretical models of how this process effects resulting genetic information within a population using a backward-in-time coalescent model. Our group developed simulations to confirm the theoretical predictions of this model. We also designed and implemented an inference framework to identify such genes using genotype data from real populations to study this process.
All research has been impacted by the pandemic, but we're thrilled to work with our collaborators at HSE and Denmark. We will continue our work on the genetic mixing of diverse populations (Admixture) by applying tools we have developed in collaboration with Vladimir Shchur. I am excited to continue to collaborate with Vladimir Shchur and to find new collaborators. I think we have complimentary skills and knowledge and can really help push our research forward together.
Genomics has incredible potential to transform fields from agriculture, to medicine, to pathogen surveillance. Right now, rapid genome sequencing is allowing to trace the evolution of SARS-CoV-2 in real time!
At the School’s first online lecture, Russell Corbett-Detig gave a talk, ‘On the Genetic Data’. View the first lecture as well as subsequent lectures here.
The Poletaev Readings, dedicated to the memory of Andrey Poletaev, one of the founders of the Poletaev Institute for Theoretical and Historical Studies in the Humanities (Russian acronym — IGITI), is a major annual event of the Institute. The event was set to mark its 10th anniversary in 2020, but due to the pandemic, the anniversary forum has been postponed to 2021. In its place, the organizers have arranged the Poletaev Readings 9¾, which were held online. HSE News Service spoke with the event organizer and some of the participants.
The Second International Conference ‘East and West in the New Transformation Phase: Asia Encountering the Challenges Of Deglobalization’ will be held from December 16-17, 2020. According to Vera Vishnyakova, Head of theFaculty of World Economy and International Affairs School of International Regional Studies, it will be the first event to discuss the most pressing questions in contemporary international regional studies.
2020 iCare Participants Discuss the Economic Effects of the Pandemic, the Accessibility of Higher Education in Russia, and More
On September 21, the VIII International Conference on Applied Research in Economics (iCare) was held online, bringing together more than 100 researchers from 19 countries. Organizers, speakers, teachers, and students shared their impressions of the event and talked about the opportunities that the conference opens up for them.
From Shocks and Crises to Inequality, the Environment and Coronavirus: HSE University in Perm to Host 8th iCare Conference
On September 21, 2020, the HSE University - Perm will hold its eighth iCare — International Conference on Applied Research in Economics (and Finance and Management). This year, the event will be held online for the first time, and participants will not only be able to give presentations, but will also have the opportunity to talk in informal ‘virtual rooms’.
This year’s International Economics Olympiad for high school students started on September 7 with an opening ceremony that celebrated the biggest and most diverse group of students yet to compete in the Olympiad, now in its third year. 29 teams from 29 countries will compete this time. The event, which is being held online due to the pandemic, will last until September 13.
New Inequality, Environmental Impact and Other Consequences of the Coronavirus Pandemic: III ICEF Conference on Applied Economics Focuses on COVID-19
This year, the ICEF Conference on Applied Economics will be held online for the first time ever. On September 12, experts from around the world will discuss the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on the global economy. The HSE News Services describes the papers that will be presented and why the organizers decided to devote this event to COVID-19.
In December 2020, the HSE eLearning Office, together with the global online platform Coursera, will host the eSTARS International eLearning Conference.
MIEM, WorldSkills Russia, and Industrial Partners Hold International Corporate Security Training Modules and Competition
From June 22 to July 9, 2020, the 2020 International BRICS Future Skills Camp Championship, which allows students to both expand and test their skills in enterprise information systems security, took place. The event was jointly organized by WorldSkills Russia (WSR), the HSE Tikhonov Moscow Institute of Electronics and Mathematics (MIEM HSE), and Far Eastern Federal University (FEFU). Students from Brazil, Russia, India, China, and the Republic of South Africa participated in the competition.
On July 3, 2020, the 4th Eastern Conference on Football Economics and the 6th Western Conference on Football and Finance were held. Jointly organized by HSE University, the University Paderborn, the New Economic School, the EWG OR in Sports, and the University of Reading, the conference was dedicated to the economic, financial and social aspects of football. Some of the organizers and participants of the conference spoke to the HSE News Service about the conference and their research.
Jonathan Calof has been cooperating with HSE since 2009. In an interview with HSE News Service he talks about how his involvement with HSE began, what projects he has been part of, and how he has organized his online work during the recent lockdown.