Nebraska Gateway to Nutrigenomics Spring Retreat UNL ARD's 'Big Idea Seminars'

March 3, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. — A University of Nebraska-Lincoln Agricultural Research Division's "Big Idea Seminars" event will be offered April 14 as the sixth annual Nebraska Gateway to Nutrigenomics Spring Retreat from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Nebraska East Union on UNL's East Campus.

"Computational Science Meets Nutrigenomics," co-organized by Janos Zempleni, nutrition and health sciences, and Stephen Scott, computer science and engineering, is a day-long retreat for faculty, postdocs, students, staff, industry partners and other interested parties to provide an opportunity to explore relevant topics and to network with fellow researchers in academia and industry.

"This retreat will provide educational insights into IANR's Healthy Humans strategic priority area and will inform the audience about how computational approaches can be used to accelerate the speed of discovery in nutrigenomics research," Zempleni said.

The ARD's seminar series builds big ideas and collaborations among faculty members not only at UNL, but across all University of Nebraska campuses.

The NGN spring retreat registration and continental breakfast will start at 8 a.m. followed by a welcome at 9 a.m. and followed by an overview by Scott and Zempleni, director of the Nebraska Gateway to Nutrigenomics.

"Our featured speakers are internationally renowned experts in the area and will present three innovative perspectives," Scott said.

The first speaker, Eric Alm, associate professor, biological engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, will present "Modeling Microbial Ecosystems" at 9:30 a.m.

This talk will describe recent efforts to model the structure and dynamics of microbial ecosystems. Model systems range from the human and animal microbiome to the environment.

After a short break, Vasant Honavar, professor and Edward Frymoyer chair, Pennsylvania State University, will present "Computational Prediction of Protein Interfaces and Interactions" at 11 a.m.

The audience will learn about computational methods for determining the structures of complexes formed by proteins, including sequence homology-based partner-specific prediction of protein interfaces and the ranking of docked conformations using predicted interfaces.

After lunch, Melvin Reichman, president and CSO of LIMR Chemical Genomics Center Inc. from the Lankenau Institute for Medical Research, will present "How Open Are We to Open-Innovation in Pharmaceutical R$D?" at 1:30 p.m.

Reichman's presentation will provide the audience an overview of the sea-change in pharmaceutical R&D, with emphasis on the cultural, legal, scientific, governmental and economic factors that play in translating basic research in cell signaling into first-in-class medicines.

The retreat will conclude with the NGN graduate student and postdoctoral fellow poster session, poster research awards and adjournment.

The poster competition is open to all students and post-doctoral fellows, which can be entered with registration. Cash prizes will be awarded.

There is no fee to attend this event, but preregistration is required as seating is limited. To register, visit  Registration includes continental breakfast, breaks and lunch, along with closing reception and poster session.

For more information about the ARD's Big Idea Seminars, visit the website at

The ARD's Big Idea Seminar series is in the university's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources. The NGN spring retreat also received funding from the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Economic Development, the Department of Computer Science and Engineering, and the Department of Nutrition and Health Sciences.

Click here for photo of Eric Alm

Click here for photo of Vasant Honavar

Click here for photo of Melvin Reichman

Janos Zempleni, Ph.D.
Nutrition and Health Sciences

Stephen Scott, Ph.D.
Associate Professor
Computer Science and Engineering

David Jackson, Ph.D.
Associate Dean
Agricultural Research Division

Sandi Alswager Karstens
IANR News Service