BTI Seminar series

Upcoming Seminar

Tuesday December 13, 2016, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Dr. Wei Xu
Assistant Professor, University of Toronto, Dalla Lana School of Public Health

Title: Methodology to Identify Environmental and Host Genomic Association on Human Microbiome Data

Abstract: Technological advances in genomic sequencing have enabled researchers to unveil the wide variability of bacteria presented within different locations of the body, i.e. the microbiome, and how it relates to disease. However, our understanding of how microbiomes affect diseases is still unclear. It is necessary to better understand both environmental and host genetic factors impact the composition of the microbiome to improve disease management. Powerful statistical and bioinformatics tools are needed to overcome these knowledge gaps.

In this talk, I will introduce the general characteristics of the human microbiome data that can be clustered into operational taxonomic units (OTUs) at each taxonomic level by next-generation sequencing. Several analytic approaches will be introduced to summarize and assess the single or multiple OTUs using different computational algorithms. Specific features of the microbiome sequencing data will be explored such as non-negative, highly skewed sequence counts with excess zeros, and clustered taxonomic structure. I will introduce a novel methodology that incorporates the hierarchical nature of bacterial classification to explore interactions both between genes as well as between genes and the environment to understand their effects on the microbiome. This method can help discover both genetic and environmental factors that influence the microbiome, and the information could ultimately be used to modify the microbiome with the goal of improving human health.

Speaker bio: Dr. Wei Xu is a Principal Biostatistician at the Princess Margaret Cancer Center, a Scientist at the Ontario Cancer Institute, and a faculty at Dalla Lana School of Public Health, University of Toronto. Dr. Xu’s research interests focus on clinical trial design and methodology, statistical genetics, and cancer translational research. He has led multiple cancer clinical and pharmacogenetic studies. He has been awarded various research grants from CIHR, CCSRI, OICR, and NIH as principal-investigator or co-investigator. So far, he has published over 200 peer-reviewed papers in high impact journals such as Lancet Oncology, Journal of Clinical Oncology, and Nature Genetics.

Read Dr. Wei’s profile


Ontario Institute for Cancer Research
West-Tower Boardroom 6-12
MaRS Centre
661 University Avenue, Suite 510,
Toronto, Ontario

Juravinski Hospital and Cancer Centre
G Wing, 2nd floor boardroom
711 Concession St,
Hamilton, Ontario

University of Waterloo
M3 3001
200 University Avenue West
Waterloo, Ontario


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We look forward to your participation.

Future Seminars

  • Dr. Rinku Sutradhar
    Senior Scientist, Instiute for Clinical Evaluative Sciences
    Tuesday January 24, 2017, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
  • Dr. David Berman
    Director, Queen’s Cancer Research Institute, Queen’s University
    Tuesday February 28, 2017, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.