Publications of the week: SCN8A, SYN1, ZDHHC9, and SCNM1

Power outage. This week’s publications of the week were conceptualized in complete darkness. A thunderstorm had hit the Philadelphia area on Tuesday, leading to widespread power outages in the region. I found myself in the strange position of being without power for a night, but with full strength cell phone reception and a completely charged laptop battery. Here is our post on the most relevant publications of the last few weeks, written in the calm of a dark night where the only sound around was the howling of our neighbor’s backup generator. Continue reading

TADA – a joint analysis of de novo and inherited risk factors in autism

Beyond de novo. One of the most robust ways to interpret exome data is the analysis of de novo mutations. However, in addition to the 1-2 de novo events that we can identify in every individual, there is a plethora of inherited variants that often look suspicious. Unfortunately, other than looking at monogenic recessive disorders, we are often incapable of understanding the importance of these inherited variants and tend to ignore them. A recent publication in Nature now overcomes this difficulty by applying a joint analysis of inherited and de novo variants in autism. Continue reading

Red Johanna Day, Ninja Turtles and my decade in epilepsy genetics

Where do you see yourself in ten years? You probably might not imagine yourself wearing Ninja Turtle pajama pants, getting up at 4:00 in the morning for a teleconference. For some reason, I kept track of my very early beginnings in epilepsy genetics when I was still a medical student. According to my calendar, today is precisely my tenth anniversary in epilepsy genetics, a day that I refer to as Red Johanna Day. Let’s revisit what happened over the last decade and what I learned from my mentors and friends in the field. And let’s find out about the Ninja Turtles. Continue reading

Three reasons why exomes are like MRIs – and three reasons why they are not

Exome rounds. How will next-generation sequencing technologies impact on patient care in the future? What role will genetic analyses play in routine health care? Sometimes, the possible role of genetic information is compared to the role of MRI imaging, including the general expertise that is required of clinicians who apply these technologies but are not necessarily dedicated experts in the field. Here are three interesting parallels between exomes and MRI – and three examples how the impact of these technologies differs drastically. Continue reading

Program or be programmed – the EuroEPINOMICS bioinformatics workshop 2014

Join the genome hacking league.  We are preparing a EuroEPINOMICS bioinformatics workshop in Leuven and I really, really encourage you to join us, as there are handful of place left. This will be the workshop that I always wanted to attend, but never got a chance to take part in. And yes, there is a final exam, but there is a chance that you might pass it.  If you’re worried, skip ahead two paragraphs.

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Three things you didn’t know about epilepsy and genes

Fall colors. Just a brief summary of how this post originated. Eckernförde is a small city north of Kiel and the weekly Sunday destination of my daughter and me because of the wave pool.  This past Sunday, daylight saving and the fact that she didn’t like her dinner had confused the little girl, and we had been awake since 4AM. As a consequence, she fell asleep on the way, and I kept driving to let her sleep. We made it as far as Haddeby, and I used this time to mentally put a post together that I had been planning for some time. These are the three things that are often misunderstood with regards to epilepsy and genes. Continue reading

Invitation for the EuroEPINOMICS General Assembly in Tübingen

We need to talk. Much has happened in EuroEPINOMICS land ever since the launch of this Eurocores activity in 2011. Back then, exomes were still a realistic, but somewhat remote possibility and the complexity and ambiguity of the human genome was only beginning to be revealed. Now, roughly two years later, we have witnessed major breakthroughs in understanding epilepsy through genetic findings and we have generated large datasets on common and rare epilepsy syndromes that require an unanticipated effort for data mining and sharing. The EuroEPINOMICS Consortium will hold its 2013 General Assembly in Tübingen, Germany, from 30.10-01.11.2013. This meeting will connect all four Collaborative Research Projects and will be the central meeting of this year to jointly discuss our current activities and plans for the future. Continue reading

Three things the beach taught me about science

Endless summer. I am quoting from a representative email that I received this summer from a fellow scientist in the EuroEPINOMICS consortium: “XYZ will reply to you once he is back from his holiday – IF he comes back”. A metereological anomaly had given us one of the longest and most intense summers that I can remember. No rain for roughly four weeks, a new temperature record and a heat that was so intense that the tarmac on the highways started to melt. Accordingly, the motivation in EuroEPINOMICS land to leave the beach behind and return to the office was at an all time low. We spent our summer holiday in Marielyst, Denmark and I just wanted to share some thoughts on how the world of science looks when you’re at the beach. Yes, this post is not too serious. Continue reading

Cold fusion – joining exome datasets to identify autism genes

Mergers and acquisitions. Invariably, genetic research in neurodevelopmental disorders is moving towards joint analyses of large datasets. While the methodology of meta-analysis is well established for genome-wide association studies, the joint analysis of exome datasets comes with many question marks. Now, a recent paper in PLOS Genetics pioneers the field of joint exome data analysis for association studies in autism. This paper highlights some unexpected facets of rare variant analysis. Continue reading

5 good reasons for neuroblogging – The EuroEPINOMICS blog celebrates its first birthday

Growing up. Exactly one year ago, we got serious about blogging and started posting regularly on the EuroEPINOMICS blog. Since then, we have published 145 posts on various topics regarding epilepsy, genes and the life of a scientist. In this post, we just wanted to give you five good reasons why we keep on neuroblogging. Continue reading