Plenary Speakers

A plenary lecture is featured both on Monday and Wednesday mornings during the ACT meeting. The Program Committee is selecting interesting and timely speakers for the ACT Annual Meeting Plenary Lectures.

Monday, November 5, 7:45 AM–8:40 AM

Daniel Ciccarone, MD, MPH

Professor, Family and Community Medicine, University of California–San Francisco

Dr. Dan H. Ciccarone, MD, MPH, is a professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Ciccarone has been principal or co-investigator on numerous NIH-sponsored public health research projects. Currently, he is leading the “Heroin in Transition” study, which examines utilizing an integrated multidisciplinary approach—ethnographic, economic, and statistical modeling—the recent rise in heroin use and the expanding diversity of heroin source-forms and illicitly made synthetic opioids (e.g., fentanyls) and their relationship to sharp increases in illicit opioid-involved morbidity and mortality. His publications have appeared in JAMA, NEJM, AJPH, IJDP,and PLoS Medicine. Also, he is Associate Editor for the International Journal of Drug Policy and recently edited an IJDP special issue on the “triple wave crisis” of opioids, heroin, and fentanyl in the United States.


Title: A More Dangerous "Heroin": Lessons Learned from Street-Based Research in Four US Fentanyl Hotspots

Description: The national mortality data on the intertwined epidemics of prescription opioid pills, heroin and synthetic opioids is sobering. The risk of overdose is geographically uneven with the Northeast, Midwest, and Mid-Atlantic regions at higher risk for heroin- and synthetic-opioid-related overdose. Little is known however on the mechanisms of structural risk and risk-taking among the heroin using population. Qualitative research in public health is best used for exploration when many unknowns exist. It can help generate hypothesis for further epidemiological inquiry as well as foster programmatic and interventions development by better understanding the population at risk. The Heroin in Transition project (NIH/NIDA) conducted "hotspot" research in four US areas where significant changes in the 'heroin' supply have occurred.

A number of themes are immerging: 1) Rampant individual, social and cultural devastation; 2) Impressive changes in heroin which are supply driven; 3) Remarkable variation in potency, compounded by fentanyl; 4) Users' responses to perceived adulteration varied, including information seeking, attraction, dislike, avoidance and taking precautions; 5) Adaptive precautions included a variety of methods for sampling/observing the strength of the supply; and 6) Youth and new users have incomplete knowledge and practice of safer practices. The evolving heroin and fentanyl co-epidemics are unprecedented in scope and are leading to seismic changes in the risk landscape for users. A new generation of heroin users faces daunting structural risk, but also rising behavioral risks, for overdose as well as viral and bacterial infection. Improved toxicosurveillance, including drug surveillance, will likely improve the risk landscape.

Wednesday, November 7, 8:00 AM–8:55 AM

Elaine A. Ostrander, PhD

Chief and Distinguished Investigator, Cancer Genetics and Comparative Genomics Branch, National Human Genome Research Institute, NIH

Dr. Elaine A. Ostrander is chief of the Cancer Genetics and Comparative Genomics Branch at the National Human Genome Research Institute of NIH, and she is head of the Section on Comparative Genetics. She received her PhD from Oregon Health Sciences University in 1987 and completed postdoctoral training at Harvard and University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Ostrander initiated the canine genome project in 1993, building maps to navigate the dog genome. Her current work focuses on finding genes controlling morphologic variation and disease susceptibility. She was a faculty member at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center for 12 years, and then she moved to NIH in 2004. Dr. Ostrander has published more than 340 papers, edited multiple books, and has won several awards—including the American Cancer Society Junior Faculty Award, the Burroughs Welcome Award for Functional Genomics, the Asa Mays Award, the International Canine Health Lifetime Achievement Award, and the 2013 Genetics Society of America Medal.


Title: Studies of Domestic Dogs Facilitates Understanding of Human Health and Biology

Description: Each of the nearly 450 dog breeds in existence today has a unique history and genetic profile. Early in domestication, dogs were bred to perform specific behaviors such as herding, guarding, and hunting. Later, fanciers developed hundreds of breeds, often displaying variation in body morphology, including shape and size in addition to coat color, skull shape, leg length, etc. Domestic dogs display the largest amount of physical variation of any land mammal currently on earth. We are interested in understanding the genetic underpinnings of that variation, and applying those results to studies of growth regulation, normal and abnormal behavior, and disease susceptibility.

To date, studies of modern breed formation have relied on common breeds, a single collection site, and/or small numbers of genetic markers, thus limiting the traceable variation which would allow the accurate assessment of ancestry patterns that link modern breeds one to another. We have assembled the largest and most diverse dataset of dog breeds analyzed to date with breeds originating from six continents reflecting the extensive phenotypic variation and heritage that coalesce in modern dogs. Whole genome sequencing and single nucleotide polymorphism analysis has been conducted to understand the genetics of breed development, disease migration, and morphologic variation. The methods and data used to produce a genomic understanding of man's best friend will be discussed and how results from these studies can advance our understanding of human development, behavior, and disease will be shown.