Genetic Testing – The Ultimate Matchmaker

Mapping your genome to personalize medicine and more, plus a look at related stem cell research

Event Details


swissnex San Francisco
730 Montgomery St., San Francisco, 94111 United States


July 31, 2009 from 5:30 pm to 9:00 pm America/Los Angeles (UTC-08:00)

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Personalized medicine holds great promise for treating maladies according to an individual’s genomic profile. Companies in Switzerland, the US and Australia are working to commercialize this knowledge to offer patients a personalized map charting potential health risks so they can take appropriate action. There is even the possibility to offer match-making services based on DNA.

Swiss researchers are also taking up an important role by looking into the influence of stem cell research on this process. Where is stem cell research at today? How far are we from finding cures? Are creating the perfect babies and commercialized DNA just around the corner?

Join swissnex San Francisco for a intimate panel discussion with Prof. Georg A. Hollaender, Head of the laboratory of Pediatric Immunology at the University of Basel and Dr. Alan Trounson, Director of the California Center for Regenerative Medicine and Elissa Levin of Navigenics to flesh out these issues, with journalist Evan Ratliff on hand to moderate this timely conversation.


6:30 pm   doors open
7:00 pm   panel discussion
8:15 pm   reception and networking
9:15 pm   doors close



Prof. Georg Hollaender,

Ph.D., is Head of the laboratory of Pediatric Immunology at the University of Basel’s Department of Biomedicine and Head of the department of research at University Children’s Hospital of Basel. He is also an Associate Professor at the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Montreal, Canada. Dr. Hollaender is a researcher and pediatric immunologist interested in the development and function of the immune system in health and disease. His particular scientific interests are focused on two topics: the molecular and cellular control of thymus development and function, and the damage to thymic structure and function as a consequence of bone marrow transplantation. Over the last few years, Dr. Hollaender’s work has contributed to a better understanding of the molecular and cellular controls that shape the normal formation of the thymus. With his research team he identified novel molecules and evolutionarily well-conserved signaling pathways that are intimately involved in these processes. The results from these studies form the basis to identify thymic epithelial precursor/stem cells that can be used in the future for cell replacement therapies in individuals deficient of a normal thymus function.



Alan Trounson,

Ph.D., is Head of the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine. Prior to this he was Professor of Stem Cell Sciences and Director, Monash Immunology and Stem Cell Laboratories at Monash University, and the Founder of the National Biotechnology Centre of Excellence – ‘Australian Stem Cell Centre’, as well as Global Scientific Strategy Advisor. Professor Trounson graduated from the University of New South Wales in 1971 with an M.Sc. in Wool and Pastoral Sciences. In 1974 he was awarded a Ph.D. in animal embryology by Sydney University. From 1974-1976 he was awarded the Dalgety Research Fellow at the ARC Institute of Animal Physiology and Biochemistry at Cambridge University. In 1977 he was appointed Senior Research Fellow at Monash University, and by 1984 was a Reader in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. He was appointed Director of the Centre for Early Human Development in 1985, was awarded a Personal Chair in Obstetrics and Gynaecology/Paediatrics in 1991 at Monash University, and in 2003 was awarded a Personal Chair as Professor of Stem Cell Sciences, also at Monash University. The Faculties of Medical Sciences and Physical Education and Physiotherapy, Vrije Universiteit Brussel, Brussels, Belgium, awarded Professor Trounson a Doctor Honoris Causa in 2003. His scientific accomplishments include: the pioneering of human in vitro fertilisation (IVF) and associated reproductive technologies; the diagnosis of inherited genetic disease in preimplantation embryos; the discovery and production of human embryonic stem cells and their ability to be directed into neurones, prostate tissue and respiratory tissue. He is on the Victorian Government’s Innovation Economy Advisory Board, and is a Director of the Victorian Endowment for Science, Knowledge and Innovation (VESKI). His present research interests are focused on the formation of human embryonic stem cells and stem cell biology; reprogramming pluripotentiality by cytoplasmic and nuclear transfer; embryonic stem cell differentiation into respiratory, thymic, prostate and gametic lineages; and adult and embryonic stem cell utilization in cell therapy for inflammatory lung disease and cystic fibrosis

Elissa Levin,

M.S., CGC, a board-certified Genetic Counselor, is the Director of the Genetic Counseling Program at Navigenics.  Her experience ranges from the research lab to medical centers to the Internet, and she has provided genetic counseling in many settings, including directly to consumers via telephone and the Web. She earned a master of science degree in genetic counseling from Arcadia University in Philadelphia and is certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling. She began her career focused on the genetics of heart disease, providing genetic counseling and education to families and staff in the cardiology division of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. At the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center, she counseled clients of all ages about general and metabolic genetics and coordinated clinical trials for enzyme replacement therapy. Most recently, she helped pioneer DNA Direct, one of the first direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies, providing testing, education and counseling services for specific medical conditions. Her broader efforts to improve health care by setting high standards for providing reliable, quality genetics services through the Internet have led to nationwide lectures, workshops and training sessions.



Evan Ratliff

is a contributing editor for Wired magazine whose writing also appears in The New Yorker, the New York Times Sunday Magazine, Men’s Journal, New York, and many other publications. He writes on science, technology, crime, and the environment, and last year undertook a Navigenics DNA scan for a pie
ce in Men’s Journal. He is the co-author of Safe: The Race to Protect Ourselves in a Newly Dangerous World (HarperCollins, 2005), about innovation and counter-terrorism.


This event is produced by Swissnex San Francisco  and part of the U.S.-wide program ThinkSwiss-Brainstorm the Future. As a leading country in science, research and technology, Switzerland is working with its American counterparts to address key global topics such as life sciences, to better understand trends and arrive at solutions.


Photo: Myleen Hollero