Oxford Global Sequencing Meetings: Where MEN Tell You About Sequencing #YAMMM

Well, got an email invite to one of these Oxford Global Meetings. Sadly the gender ratio of listed speakers is awful. I highlighted the list below (men in yellow, women in green).  Ratio of 17:3.  (See below).  No thanks Oxford Global.

Dear Professor Jonathan Eisen ,
 We hope you are well and we would like to invite you to speak at our forthcoming Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) USA congress (www.nextgenerationsequencingusa-congress.com) or co-located  Single Cell Analysis USA congress (www.singlecellusa-congress.comto be held on 27th –28th October 2015 at Harvard Medical School, Boston, USA.
 Over the two days, the NGS USA congress aims to cover updates and application of NGS technologies in genomics and genetics research in the US and UK, Europe. Topics are comprised of NGS & NGS Data Analysis Technologies and Platforms, NGS for Cancer Drug Development, Microbiology and Immunotherapy as well as Clinical Applications & Diagnostics. Novel updates in Gene Synthesis, Protein Sequencing and Targeted Sequencing will also be explored The Single Cell Analysis USA congress looks at new methods in DNA sequencing, epigenomic DNA sequencing and RNA sequencing, informatics, data handling as well as application of single cell genomics in understanding cancer  other areas of cancer research such as cancer stem cells and immunotherapy. The presentations are also comprised of novel techniques in imaging and cytometry, isolation and processing of single cells. The congress also covers the applications in translational medicine and the clinic for therapeutic targeting.
 The combination of carefully researched topics and high-level networking opportunities creates a unique discussion platform for over 250 senior scientists we are expecting in attendance from research institutions and pharmaceutical companies. Confirmed Speakers for 2015 include:NGS·          Sreekumar Kodangattil, Senior Principal Scientist, Pfizer       
·          Shrikant M. Mane, Senior Research Scientist in Genetics; Director, MBB Keck Biotech laboratory; Director, Yale Center for Genome Analysis
·          Stephan Schuster, Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Penn State University
·          Richard  McCombie, Professor, Human Genetics, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory
·          Jingyue  Ju, Director, Center for Genome Technology and Biomolecular Engineering, Professor of Chemical Engineering and Pharmacology, Columbia University            
·          Christopher Mason, Chair, ABRF NGS Consortium, Assistant Professor, Weill Cornell Medical College. Dept. of Physiology & Biophysics; The Brain & Mind Research Institute
·          Michaela Bowden, Associate Director, Center for Molecular Oncologic Pathology, Dana Farber Cancer Institute      
·          Yuan Gao, Director, Associate Professor, Lieber Institute/Johns Hopkins University
·          Sheng Li, Instructor in Bioinformatics, Department of Neurological Surgery, Weill Cornell Medical College
·          Michael  Fraser, Associate Director, CPC-GENE Prostate Cancer Genomics Program, Princess Margaret Cancer Centre    
 Single Cell·          Daniel Chiu, Professor, University of Washington    
·          Steve Potter, Professor, Division of Developmental Biology, Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center
·          Norman Dovichi, Professor, University Notre Dame 
·          Zaida Luthey-Schulten, Professor of Chemistry, University of Illinois
·          Paul Bohn, Professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, University of Notre Dame       
·          Navin Varadarajan, Assistant Professor, University of Houston
·          Alexander R., Ivanov, Director of the HSPH Proteomics Resource, Research Scientist
Harvard School of Public Health·          Viktor Adalsteinsson, Researcher, Researcher, Koch Institute at MIT, Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard Medical School
·          Xinghua Victor Pan, Research Scientist, Single Cell Genomics Group, Sherman Weissman Laboratory, Department of Genetics, Yale University School of Medicine
·          Cheng-Zhong Zhang, Computational Biologist, Department of Medical Oncology, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Another "Yet another mostly male meeting (YAMMM)" from BGI

Well just saw an announcement for this meeting on Twitter: The First Announcement of The Tenth Annual Meeting of the International Conference on Genomics (ICG

And I hoped beyond hope that they would have a decent representation of women speakers at the meeting.  Why did I hope this?  Well, in the past, BGI run meetings have had incredibly skewed gender ratios of speakers.  See this post for a discussion of their past record: Kudos to the DOE-JGI for organizing a genomics meeting w/ a good gender ratio – no kudos to BGI – yet again

I guess I had hoped that perhaps they would try to change their practices after I and other people criticized them for their past record.  So – I went to the web site for the ICG10 meeting advertised in the Tweet.  Oh well, silly me for hoping.

On the front page they have 14 speakers they are promoting – all of them male.

Screen shot from ICG10 web site

On the announcement page they have a slightly different list where the ratio is 14:1

  • Jef Boeke, NYU Langone University School of Medicine, USA
  • Sydney Brenner, 2002 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, Singapore
  • Charles Cantor, Sequenom, Inc., USA
  • Julio Celis, Danish Cancer Society Research Center, Denmark
  • Richard Durbin, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, UK
  • Leroy Hood, Institute for Systems Biology, USA
  • Thomas Hudson, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, Canada
  • Maria Leptin, Chair of EMBO, Germany
  • Maynard Olson, University of Washington, USA
  • Aristides Patrinos, J. Craig Venter Institute, USA
  • Mu-ming Poo, University of California, Berkeley, USA
  • Richard Roberts, New England Biolabs, 1993 Nobel Laureate in Physiology or Medicine, USA
  • Eils Roland, Heidelberg University, Germany
  • Mathias Uhlen, Royal Institute of Technology, Sweden
  • Tilhuan Yilma, University of California, Davis, USA

Regardless, this is a consistent pattern of not having an even remotely balanced ratio of male to female speakers at their meetings.  And please, avoid their meetings until they change this.

Don’t forget to positively highlight meetings w/ "good" gender ratio of presenters

As many know, I spend a decent amount of effort critiquing conferences that have poor speaker diversity (mostly focus on gender ratio).  Well I am also trying to start calling out in a positive way those meetings that do a good job with speaker diversity. And here is one: 2014 Xenopus Genetics meeting in Pacific Grove.  I was pointed to it in an email that was in response to a Tweet I posted (not sure if I have permission to say who this was from – will post if they say it is OK). (UPDATE 9/20 – it was Ian Quigley).

From what I compute – the ratio was 30:22 male: female.  I do not know what the ratio of the “pool” of speakers is but regardless, having 42% female speakers is a more even ratio than I have seen for most life sciences meetings.  So they deserve some props for this.

Female speakers highlighted in yellow.  Male in green.  

Keynote Lecture: Rebecca Heald

Special Lectures from John Gurdon and Marc Kirschner

Invited Speakers

Enrique Amaya, University of Manchester

Ruchi Bajpai, University of Southern California

Bill Bement, University of Wisconsin

Mike Blower, Harvard Medical School

Cliff Brangwynne, Princeton University

Josh Brickman, The Danish Stem Cell Center DanStem

Ken Cho, University of California, Irvine

Hollis Cline, The Scripps Research Institute

Frank Conlon, University of North Carolina

Lance Davidson, University of Pittsburgh

Eddy DeRobertis, University of California, Los Angeles

Amanda Dickinson, Virginia Commonwealth University

Carmen Domingo, San Francisco State University

Karel Dorey, University of Manchester

Jim Ferrell, Stanford University

Jenny Gallop, University of Cambridge

Jay Gatlin, University of Wyoming

Jean Gautier, Columbia University

Xi He, Harvard University

Ralf Hofmann, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Jubin Kashef, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology

Mustafa Khokha, Yale University

Mary Lou King, University of Miami

Laurent Kodjabachian, Developmental Biology Institute of Marseille (IBDM)

Branko Lantic, Cardiff University

Dan Levy, University of Wyoming

Soeren Lienkamp, University of Freiburg

Karen Liu, King’s College

Laura Ann Lowery, Boston College

Ann Miller, University of Michigan

Brian Mitchell, Northwestern University

Anne-Helene Monsoro-Burq, Institute Curie

Kim Mowry, Brown University

Shuyi Nie, University of Georgia

Christof Niehrs, German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ)

Nancy Papolopulu, University of Manchester

Sabine Petry, Princeton University

Susannah Rankin, Oklahoma Medical Research Foundation

Bruno Reversade, Institute of Medical Biology, A* Singapore

Dan Rokhsar, University of California, Berkeley

Hazel Sive, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Elena Silva Casey, Georgetown University

Francesca Spagnoli, Max-Delbrück-Center for Molecular Medicine (MDC)

Elly Tanaka, Center for Regenerative Therapies Dresden

Gert Veenstra, Radboud University Nijmegen

Monica Vetter, University of Utah

Sara Woolner, University of Manchester

Phil Zegerman, University of Cambridge

Aaron Zorn, Cincinatti Children’s

A distasteful & disgraceful "Are there limits to evolution?" meeting at the University of Cambridge #YAMMM

Well, I saw this Tweet the other day

//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js And though there was a bit of a discussion on Twitter I felt I had to follow up with a blog post. When I saw the post I was at a conference (Lake Arrowhead Microbial Genomes) where I could get Twitter access but for some reason very little web access. So I could not dig around until now (I am home). 

This meeting is a complete disgrace and an embarassment for the field of evolutionary biology, for the University of Cambridge which is hosting the meeting, and for the Templeton Foundation which is sponsoring it.

Why do I say this? Well, pretty simple actually. The meeting site lists the Invited Keynote speakers for the meeting.  Notice anything?  How about I help you by bringing all the pictures together.

Notice anything now?  How about I help you some more by masking out the men and not the women.

Impressive no?  25 speakers – 23 of them male.  I guess that means there are no qualified female speakers who coudl discuss something about evolution right?  It would be worth reading “Fewer invited talks bu women in evolutionary biology symposia” to get some context.  What an incredible, disgusting, distasteful and disgraceful meeting.  
I recommend to everyone who was considering going to this meeting – skip it.  Also consider writing to the University of Cambirdge and the Templeton Foundation to express your thoughts about the meeting.  This certainly is a fine example of Yet Another Mostly Male Meeting (YAMMM).  Well, maybe I should word that differently – this is a disgusting example of a YAMMM.  

For more on this and related issues

  • Posts on Women in STEM

  • Also see


    International Symposium on Subsurface Microbiology – where men tell us about deep things

    Just saw this Tweet:

    //platform.twitter.com/widgets.js This refers to this meeting: Call for Abstracts for 2014 Ninth International Symposium on Subsurface Microbiology, Pacific Grove California

    The plenary speakers for this meeting are all men

    • Peter Girguis
    • Terry Hazen
    • Rainer Meckenstock
    • Lars Nielsen
    • Aaron Packman
    • Karsten Pedersen
    • Timothy Scheibe
    • Jack Schijven

    The last meeting was in 2011 and it was not much better – with one female keynote speaker.

    • Andreas Kappler
    • Karsten Pedersen
    • Christian Griebler
    • Ian Head
    • Frank Löffler
    • Babara Sherwood-Lollar
    • Bo Barker Jørgensen
    • Ken Takai
    • Kai-Uwe Hinrichs
    • Tori Hoehler

    Apparently, only men can talk about deep things.  Fun times.

    No Ovaries? Well this Ovarian Club Conference is For You (YAMMMs for everyone)

    Well, I just got an email invitation to attend CME – OVARIAN CLUB 4.  And alas, rather than just dumping it into SPAM (which I did do) I clicked on one of the links.  I had to know – what was the gender balance at this meeting.  Was there any chance that the organizers would see that it would be ironic to not have a decent number of female speakers?  Alas, nope.

    The organizing committee is 17:1 males to females.

    And the speaker balance is not much better something like 25:6.

    I guess maybe they should rename this “Meeting brought to you by people who mostly do not have ovaries.”  Sad.  Another YAMMM (Yet another mostly male meeting).

    Related posts and pages

    Today’s YAMMM (Yet another mostly male meeting): pharma-nutrition #PN2015

    Just got pointed to (by Elisabeth Bik) an announcement for a meeting: Home : Pharma-Nutrition 2015 with a focus on “Linking the Microbiome with Nutrition and Pharma”.  And alas, the list of confirmed speakers is as follows:

    • Keynote Speaker
      • Martin J. Blaser, NY University Medical Center, New York, NY, USA
    • Speakers
      • Gregor Reid, University of Western Ontario, London, ON, Canada 
      • Alain van Gool, Radboud University, Nijmegen, The Netherlands 
      • David Hafler, Yale, New Haven, CT, USA 
      • John F. Cryan, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland 
      • André Marette, Laval University, Montreal, QC, Canada 
      • Charles R. Mackay, Monash University, Clayton, Victoria, Australia
      • Alan L. Landay, Rush University Medical Center, Chicago, IL, USA

    Yay.  All men.  How wonderful.  Because, you know, there are no women working on the microbiome and nutrition right?  Ugg.

    Seems like they are still working on getting more speakers.  I will send this blog post to the organizers and see what they say.  But suffice it to say I am very disappointed in them.  Oh, and shockingly, the two organizers are men: Johan Garssen and Alan Landay.

    These YAMMMs (Yet Another Mostly Male Meeting) really have got to be killed.  People should not got to them.  People should not speak at them.  And the organizers should not be allowed to run other meetings unless they can explain themselves and provide evidence that they will work to not have this happen again.


    I found the program committee for the meeting.  Alas the gender ratio there is lame too.

    • John F Cryan, University College Cork, Cork, Ireland
    • Alain van Gool, Radboud University Medical Centre, Nijmegen, The Netherlands
    • David Hafler, Yale School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA
    • Charles R Mackay, Monash University, Melbourne, Australia
    • André Marette, Laval University, Sainte-Foy, QC, Canada
    • Gregor Reid, Lawson Health Research Institute, London, ON, Canada

    And a bit strangely – all of the people on the program committee are speakers.  No bias there.

    Today’s YAMMM (Yet Another Mostly Male Meeting) Brought to You by CIFAR & NAS

    Well, just got an invite to this meeting: Symbioses becoming permanent: The origins and evolutionary trajectories of organelles.  The topic seems of direct interest to what I work on.  And, it is relatively close (Irvine is a short hop away).  So this could be a way to go to a meeting without having to travel too far.  And maybe I could see my younger brother Matt who lives in LA and just graduated from UC Irvine’s Masters program in Sound Engineering. Then I looked at the schedule of speakers and organizers.  Many are friends.  Many others are colleagues.  Could be fun to see some people I have not seen in a while.  And then I realized, most – no nearly all of them – are men.  Below I list the people involved in the meeting, highlighting men in yellow and women in blue.

    Organizers: W. Ford Doolittle, Patrick Keeling, and John McCutcheon

    Distinctive Voices Public Lecture presented by Michael Gray, CIFAR Advisor, Dalhousie University

    Session 1: Genomes (evolutionary rates, oddities, and reduction)

    • Introduction and welcome remarks – W. Ford Doolittle, CIFAR Advisor & Patrick Keeling, CIFAR Program Director and Senior Fellow
    • John McCutcheon, CIFAR Associate Fellow, University of Montana
    • John Archibald, CIFAR Senior Fellow, Dalhousie University, Nuclear organelles 
    • Andrew Roger, CIFAR Senior Fellow, Dalhousie University, Organelle reduction 
    • Siv Andersson, Uppsala University, Alphaproteobacterial genome evolution 
    • David Smith, University of Western Ontario, Roots of genomic architecture variation 
    • Daniel Sloan, Colorado State University, Cytonuclear co-evolution under extreme mitochondrial mutation rates
    • John Allen, University College London, Why keep genomes?

    Session 2: Integration/Control (trafficking, signaling, transporters)

    • Debash Bhattacharya, Rutgers University, Transporters in organellogenesis 
    • Nancy Moran, University of Texas, Austin, Insect endosymbionts 
    • Geoff McFadden, University of Melbourne, Diversity of protein trafficking
    • Chris Howe, Cambridge University, Why integrate?
    • Steve Perlman, CIFAR Fellow, University of Victoria, Maternal transmission, sex ratio distortion, and mitochondria 
    • William Martin, Düsseldorf University, Endosymbiont and organelle, what’s the difference? 
    • Moriya Okhuma, Riken University, Metabolic integration across endosymbiotic communities

    Session 3: Theories and Models

    • Eors Szathmary, Loránd University, A fresh look at cooperation in some major transitions, especially the origin of eukaryotes
    • Marc Ereshefsky, University of Calgary, Evolutionary individuality
    • Peter Godfrey-Smith, City University of New York, Individuality and the egalitarian transitions 
    • Maureen O’Malley, University of Sydney, Philosophical Reflections on Endosymbiosis: Implications for Evolutionary Theory
    • Toby Kiers, University Amsterdam, Bacterial cooperativity

    Closing remarks J. McCutcheon

    So – that appears to be a ratio of 18 male speakers and 4 female speakers for a whopping 18% female speakers.  No thanks CIFAR and NAS.  I will sign up for a different meeting.  And by the way – WTF?  There are so so many qualified women working on these topics – what let to this 18:4 ratio?  The organizers should really rethink their processes and the sponsors should pull funding from meetings like this.  It is the only way some people will pay attention to diversity.

    UPDATE: 8/20

    Wrote to the NAS via their Website

    To whom it may concern:

    I am writing to express my disappointment in the gender ratio of speakers at this meeting (18 males, 4 females).  Due to the skew I am unwilling to participate.  See http://phylogenomics.blogspot.com/2014/08/todays-yammm-yet-another-mostly-male.html for details.


    Jonathan Eisen

    Got this response

    Dear Dr. Eisen,

    The NAS Committee on Scientific Programs, which oversees the Sackler Colloquia most definitely considers gender diversity when approving these programs.  When organizers propose the programs they achieve a good balance on paper. Regrettably, in many fields, women scientists are at a premium and are sometimes overwhelmed with invitations and demands for their participation on programs and committees.  For a variety of reasons, including availability of speakers, the final program is not always as optimally balanced as originally intended.

    I have conveyed your message to NAS Vice President and Chair of the Committee on Scientific Programs and will also share your concerns with the colloquium organizers and co-sponsor.

    Best regards,

    Susan Marty
    Program Director
    National Academy of Sciences
    Sackler Colloquia

    So I wrote back


    Thank you very much for the response.  It is good to hear there is some emphasis on gender diversity when programs and developed.  However, in my experience and based on my readings of the literature on this topic, this is not usually sufficient to produce diverse conferences.  Do you know if the NAS has any additional policies relating to diversity at conferences.  For example, if someone does not accept an invitation, is the organizer of the meeting then free to select whomever they like or are there protocols to help guarantee that the selection of replacements is also diverse?  Also do you know if there are any policies relating to the meetings themselves such as child care that have been shown to impact the attendance of women more than men?   

    Any additional information you have would be appreciated.  I think that NAS could and should do more than just review the proposed list of invitees. 

    Jonathan Eisen 

    Turning down an endowed lectureship because their gender ratio is too skewed towards males #WomenInSTEM

    Just got this invitation.  I have edited it to remove some of the identifying factors since I think the specific details do not matter.

    Dear Dr. Eisen: 

    I am writing to invite you to present a lecture in the endowed XXXX Lecture Series at XXXX Univsersity.  The XXXX Lecture is a platform to allow leaders in the areas of XXXX to communicate research advances to a general audience.  Recent speakers include XXXX and XXXX and XXXX.  For your talk, we were hoping you could discuss advances in understanding human microbiomes and their significance to health.  I think this is an enormously important area that the general public is still largely unaware of, and also an area with incredible promise that will see exponential progress going forward.  I know this is relatively short notice, but we are hoping that the lecture would be sometime in October or November of 2014. 

    The lectureship includes an honorarium of $2,000 in addition to covering your travel, lodging, and meal expenses.  Because XXXX we generally hold duplicate lectures XXXX on consecutive evenings (typical Tues-Wed or Wed-Thurs).  Speakers generally arrive early in the afternoon of the day of the first lecture, and depart after the second lecture the following day. Between the two lectures there will be a dinner and meetings with research or medical groups and an outreach activity in which, if you are willing, you would XXXX. 

    We would be honored to have you speak in the XXXX series  and hope you will be able to fit us into your busy schedule. 



    Well, wow.  That would be really nice.  I do not think I have ever given a named lecture before.  Then I made one fateful decision – I decided to look up who had spoken at the lecture series previously.  And, well, it was not what I wanted to see.  And another lecture series from the same institute had the same problem.  Bad gender ratio of speakers.  So, after some thought and a brief discussion with a post doc in my lab Sarah Hird whose opinions I trust on such issues.  I wrote this to the people who invited me:


    Thank you so much for the invitation and the respect it shows to me that I would be considered for this.  However, when I looked into past lectures in this series I saw something that was disappointing.  From the site XXXX where past lectures are listed I see that the ratio of male to female speakers is 14:3.  I note – the XXXX lecture series – also from XXXX – also has a skewed ratio (11:2).  As someone who is working actively on multiple issues relating to gender bias in science, I find this very disappointing.  I realize there are many issues that contribute to who comes to give a talk in a meeting or seminar series or such. But I simply cannot personally contribute to a series which has such an imbalance and I would suggest that you consider whether anything in your process is biased in some way. 


    Jonathan Eisen

    UPDATE 7/22/2014

    The person who invited me responded to my email.  Here is what this person wrote:


    Thanks for response and your concern.  I noted this uneven representation also when I took over the series a couple years ago and have worked (not as successfully as I would have liked) to get more balance.  For example, in trying to book the XXXX lecture this year I have been turned down by XXXX, but did manage to book XXXX.  For the XXXX lecture series, a related but separate series aimed at professional rather than the lay public audiences that I also run, I was turned down by XXXX, but I’ve booked XXXX.  You have been the sole male invite to either series this year.   But I will agree that in previous years the ratio has not been as good as I would like.  In part this is because it seems even harder to book top female speakers than males speakers – presumably because they are in such demand and are always asked to be representative on a million committees etc, but in past XXXX I did bring in XXXX and XXXX.  For the XXXX lecture I brought in XXXX last year.  So numbers are getting better, and this year the ratio will be at least 2:1 (max) in favor of females. 

    But you point is well taken, and perhaps I can even things out a little with your help.  Although I think microbiomes are an incredibly important and under appreciated area, this is not my area of research, so I don’t know the players.  If you can recommend female researchers in this area who are dynamic speakers that would be able to give a very publicly accessible talks (TED talk level) on the topic, and ideally are also doing great research too, I would be happy to invite them.  



    So then I wrote back

    Ruth Ley at Cornell is great – works on evolution of microbiomes and
    has done some fantastic stuff in humans and plants. See
    https://micro.cornell.edu/people/ruth-ley. And gives very good talks. 

    Katie Pollard at UCSF is completely brilliant and awesome and gives
    amazing talks
    http://www.docpollard.com. She works on many things including microbiomes 

    Jessica Green http://pages.uoregon.edu/green/ at Oregon does not work
    on human microbimes per se but does work on microbiomes in buildings
    and connects that to human microbiomes.  She is also a TED fellow and
    has given two great TED talks and is one of the best speakers I know. 

    Julie Segre at NHGRI is great too.  Hard core medical microbiome work:

    UPDATE 2: Storify of responses

    //storify.com/phylogenomics/giving-up-endowed-lectureship-due-to-gender-ratio/embed?border=false//storify.com/phylogenomics/giving-up-endowed-lectureship-due-to-gender-ratio.js?border=false[View the story “Giving Up Endowed Lectureship Due To Gender Ratio of Speakers ” on Storify]

    UPDATE 3: Some links writing about this

    For related posts by me see my collection on Diversity in STEM.  Some key posts of possible interest include:

    Other diversity related posts

    Not protesting this commencement address: Nancy Hopkins at BU on Gender Bias in STEM

    Thank you Paula Olsiewski for pointing me to this: Boston University’s 141st Commencement Baccalaureate Address: Nancy Hopkins.  It is the text of the commencement address that Nancy Hopkins gave at BU on Monday.  And it is really worth reading.  Or watching.

    And fortunately BU has posted video of the talk

    In the talk Hopkins discusses her work in biology and the subtle and overt gender bias she has seen. Hopkins is quite an amazing person. For more about her see

    Also see a talk by Hopkins at U. Chicago from 2011 at a colloqiuium on advancing women in science and engineering.