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Vancouver Bioinformatics User Group

VanBUG (Vancouver Bioinformatics Users Group) is an association of researchers, other professionals and students in the B.C. Lower Mainland who have an interest in the field of bioinformatics. VanBUG meets every month from September through April. Research presentations by bioinformatics leaders, students and industry representatives are followed by networking over pizza and refreshments

Upcoming meetings will be held at St. Paul's Hospital from 6:00pm to 9:00pm and are free and open to all. ZOOM information for remote attendees will be made available the day of the event. Detailed directions to the lecture hall are available here.

As a service to the community, other bioinformatics events are posted to the Calendar. Click Subscribe to subscribe to this calendar, so that all current and future events appear on your personal calendar, or download the .ics calendar file to manually import the January - April 2023 events.

Visit our sister groups for bioinformatics events in Montreal (MonBUG) and now Toronto (TorBUG)!

VanBUG Seminar

Event Details


Thursday, November 17th, 2022 6:00pm - 9:00pm PT

Location: St. Paul's Hospital (1081 Burrard Street, Vancouver, BC V6Z 1Y6), Cullen Family Lecture Theatre (Providence Building, Level 1, Room 1477)

Speaker: Emma Griffiths

Talk Title: The CIDGOH public health pathogen genomics contextual data framework: how to cross the streams without the world imploding

Affiliation: Ontology Project Coordinator, Lead Curator, and Research Associate, Centre for Infectious Disease Genomics and One Health at Simon Fraser University


Dr. Emma Griffiths is a research associate in the Centre for Infectious Disease Genomics and One Health (Simon Fraser University) in Vancouver, Canada. Emma completed her PhD in Biochemistry at McMaster University (Ontario) studying bacterial phylogeny and evolutionary molecular markers. She also has postdoctoral experience in fungal and chemical genetics, as well as developing ontologies for infectious disease outbreak investigation and surveillance. Her work focuses on the development of data standards and ontologies to support public health and food safety pathogen genomics data curation, sharing and analyses.


During the COVID-19 pandemic, public health pathogen genomics played a critical role in tracking transmission, monitoring outbreaks both locally and globally, identifying variants of concern, providing data for the development of diagnostic tests and vaccines, and in understanding viral evolution and origins. In order to make use of pathogen sequence data, it must be interpreted using contextual data (metadata). Contextual data includes sample metadata, laboratory methods, patient demographics, clinical outcomes, and epidemiological information. However, the variability in how contextual information is captured and encoded by different organizations and databases poses challenges for data interpretation, integration, and its use/re-use. The Centre for Infectious Disease Genomics and One Health (CIDGOH) at Simon Fraser University developed a data specification as well as a curation/validation/data transformation tool called the DataHarmonizer which were used by members of the Canadian COVID Genomics Network (CanCOGeN) to harmonize SARS-CoV-2 contextual data for national surveillance and for public repository submission. In order to support coordination of international surveillance efforts, we have partnered with the Public Health Alliance for Genomic Epidemiology to make these resources available for use worldwide. The specification was also adapted for harmonizing Monkeypox data, and in conjunction with other harmonization projects for foodborne pathogens and wastewater, forms a framework for harmonizing public health contextual data. In this talk, we will describe the challenges and impact of variable contextual data in public health, the ontology approach to harmonization, the multi-pathogen framework currently being implemented, and the tools we have developed to put data standards into practice.

Trainee Speaker: Faeze Keshavarz-Rahaghi

Affiliation: PhD Candidate, Dr. Steve Jones Lab, University of British Columbia

Talk Title: Investigating cellular pathway modifications in cancer based on transcriptomic data using machine learning approaches