For everybody, all around the world
The global nature of BG22 has never been stronger, with insights from the Philippines to France, and Cameroon to Canada.
The fully virtual format was initially forced by the Covid-19 pandemic, but has persisted as the pandemic waned. In order to facilitate seamless participation from all continents, this year’s event will also run two “around the world” live days - with daytime presentations starting in the East and progressing through 14 hours of sessions focusing on actions and science from different regions in turn before the sun sets off the Pacific coast of the Americas.
“Traditionally, attending a conference was associated with travel to an exotic destination for a number of days. This always provided a wonderful networking opportunity for all cadres of scientists, be they early career or for established scientists,” says Anne Muigai, Professor of Genetics at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Kenya.
“However, for the majority of scientists from developing countries, and specifically Africa, this meant having a few stressful weeks applying for travel grants and for visas, which were not always guaranteed.”
“These Biodiversity Genomics events have provided a free and open platform for scientists from across the globe to meet and interact from the comfort of their homes,” says Muigai, Chair of the Africa BioGenome Project. “This has enabled the advancement of genomics in regions that would, in other worlds, have been left out.”
PacBio sequencing machine, DNA Pipelines laboratory at the Wellcome Sanger Institute
Inclusivity is at the heart of the event, which is free and open to all, thanks to support from the Wellcome Sanger Institute’s Tree of Life Programme and corporate sponsors such as the biotechnology company PacBio.
This push for inclusion is not merely geographical, but also demographic. Early careers research is the focus of several sessions, and indeed early careers researchers make up a significant portion of speakers.
Sessions referencing the four key aims of justice, equity, diversity and inclusion will also be a prominent part of the agenda. These sessions, and a dedicated committee, explore ways to ensure that members of groups which may have historically been excluded from genomics are included, empowered and encouraged to lead the field into the future.
“BG22 is a marvellous opportunity for all scientists around the world to get together and share the genomic tools,” says Giulio Formenti, a postdoctoral researcher at the Rockefeller University in New York and member of the Vertebrate Genomes Project and ERGA. “This will help us address one of the the greatest challenges of our time: understand, preserve and restore biodiversity.”