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Cancer and Genomic Dark Matter

May 12–15, 2022

Chaired By

 Kathleen H. Burns, MD, PhD of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
 Ting Wang, PhD of Washington University

Important Dates

 04/12/2022 -  Travel Form Due
 04/12/2022 -  Abstracts Due

Venue Information

Asilomar Conference Grounds
800 Asilomar Avenue
Pacific Grove, CA 93950

About the Forbeck Foundation

 Forbeck Forum Information
 Travel Information
 General Program
 Frequently Asked Questions
 How to donate to WGFRF

Program Description

Transposable elements (TEs) make up 50% of the human genome but are referred to as "genomic dark matter" or "junk DNA" and often ignored in genomic medicine - both because they have been presumed to be unimportant and because their high copy number and variability pose unique technical challenges. Neither impediment now seems steadfast. Interest in the human transposable elements and their role in cancer has never been greater, and methods enabling its study are maturing at a fast pace.

Transposable elements directly contribute to cancer through both genetic and epigenetic mechanisms. De novo transposon insertions are known to disrupt important genes and gene regulatory elements and result in tumorigenesis. Epigenetically reactivated transposable elements can become cryptic promoters and enhancers and lead to abnormal gene activities including up-regulating oncogenes. These recent mounting evidences request a full understanding of the contribution of transposable elements to cancer.

On the other hand, transposable elements are a double-edged sword. Recent discoveries reveal that epigenetically reactivated transposable elements can produce cancer specific products including immunogenic antigens and double stranded RNAs, which result in an innate immune response. These findings together with rapid development of immunotherapies open new avenues for cancer treatment.

Travel Information

Travel forms are due 30 days prior to the start of the meeting to allow enough time to plan transportation.

The Monterey Regional Airport (MRY) is the preferred airport as it is only 20 minutes from the meeting location.

  • Arrivals - Thursday at 1 PM, 3 PM and 5 PM
  • Departures - Sunday at 10 AM, 12 PM and 2 PM

San Francisco International Airport (SFO) is 2 hours from the meeting location without traffic. The Foundation can only accommodate 1 pick up per day at San Francisco. If you absolutely must fly into San Francisco (ie: International Flights) the Foundation will have the following pick up times:

  • Arrivals - Thursday at 3 PM
  • Departures - Sunday at 10 AM

Submit Travel Form


Abstracts are due 30 days prior to the start of the meeting to allow enough time to prepare the meeting book.

Abstracts should be only one or two paragraphs outlining the theme of your presentation and should reflect the objective and spirit of the meeting (see above). Abstracts will be circulated about one week before the meeting. The meeting organizer will start requesting them a month before the meeting.

Submit Abstract

Forum Participants

Participant Institution
Victoria Belancio, PhD Tulane University
Guillaume Bourque, PhD McGill University
Kathleen H. Burns, MD, PhD Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
Kate Chiappinelli, PhD George Washington University
Ed Chuong, PhD University of Colorado, Boulder
Gael Cristofari, PhD French Institute of Health and Medical Research
Daniel De Carvalho, PhD Princess Margaret Cancer Center
Aguirre De Cubas, PhD Medical University of South Carolina
Bess Frost, PhD UT Health San Antonio
Vera Gorbunova, PhD University of Rochester School of Medicine
Lin He, PhD Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
Peter Jones, PhD, DSc Van Andel Institute
John Moran, PhD University of Michigan
Bing Ren, PhD University of California San Diego
Hui Shen, PhD Van Andel Institute
Ting Wang, PhD Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis

Forum Scholars

Scholar Institution
Carlos Mendez-Dorantes, PhD Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

For more than 35 years, the Forbeck Foundation has proven to be an excellent steward of donor funds and has remained focused on executing its mission. Interested in sponsoring this Forum? Contact us today for more information!