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EI Innovate 2021: Linking datasets and bioscience

Through effectively linking datasets we can accelerate bioscience and deliver the key innovations needed to improve food security, environmental management, conservation, health and wellbeing.

Start date:

17 November 2021

End date:

18 November 2021


10h00 - 16h30





Registration deadline:

14 November 2021



About the event.

This annual event aims to explore opportunities for collaboration between the Earlham Institute and external organisations. Having worked with agri-food, biotech and med-tech sectors, we have a wealth of experience in collaborating with others on developing potential solutions to industrial and societal challenges.

This year EI Innovate 2021 will showcase examples of collaborations across 3 research institutes on the Norwich Research Park, Earlham Institute, John Innes Centre, and Quadram Institute, which are strategically funded by UKRI to deliver innovative, world-class bioscience research and training, leading to wealth and job creation, generating high returns for the UK economy.

Each year, we focus on specific areas of expertise and examples of our collaborations. The theme of EI Innovate 2021 is “Linking datasets and Bioscience” and we will explore how data-driven approaches can unlock new biological understanding and development of new technologies and applications across 3 different areas:

  • Session 1 - Natural products & biomanufacturing – exploring how synthetic biology and data-driven approaches can facilitate the discovery of new bioactive compounds and develop biomanufacturing platforms based on plants.
  • Session 2- AI in plant science – exploring how AI and ML tools and techniques can help with the understanding of many biological functions in plants that underline important economic traits such as resistance to pathogens, nutrient utilisation, and structural development.
  • Session 3 - Omics approaches to study the human gut microbiome – exploring how bioinformatics, systems biology and machine learning approaches can be used for advanced microbiome analysis and to facilitate personalised microbiome treatments, identification of novel biomarkers and pathogens, and antimicrobial resistant features of our microbiota.

Read more about the Session themes under "Session Descriptions".

Who is this event for?

EI Innovate brings together a range of sectors to discuss current advances and challenges in their field; from academic researchers to businesses in agri-food, biotech and med-tech sectors, to clinicians and pharma sector. It will also be of interest to funders of life science innovation and adjacent technologies, and developers of instrumentation, tools, products and services for genomics and bioinformatics.

What can you get out of the event?

  • Find out about specific areas of EI’s expertise and technological platforms
  • Make new contacts and discuss potential ideas for collaboration
  • Discuss the latest advances and solutions within these fields
  • Learn about how to access EI’s capabilities in genomics, bioinformatics and high-performance computing, and learn about our bespoke scientific training courses.

There will be a chance for participants to participate in 1-to-1 and group meetings to network further. We anticipate this to be a great interactive experience, hope to see you all there.

Take a look at the full programme for this year's EI Innovate event below.

EI Innovate Brochure

Booking terms and conditions

Please carefully review our standard online event booking terms and conditions prior to registering for this event. Completing an online registration and associated payment process will mean that you are bound by these terms and conditions. Any supplemental terms or changes to these conditions on a per event basis will be included on this page. If you have any queries regarding our events or in relation to your booking, please contact us at training@earlham.ac.uk.

Speakers and Organisers.


Day 1 - 17 November 2021



10:00 - 10:15

Welcome to Day 1, Session 1 (Natural products & biomanufacturing)

Neil Hall, Director of Earlham Institute

10:15 - 10:30

Recoding Plant Metabolism

Nicola Patron, Synthetic Biology Group Leader, Earlham Institute

10:30 - 10:45

Design of plant biofactories of insect pheromones using the Nicotiana chassis

Diego Orzáez, Plant Molecular and Cell Biology Institute, Valencia, Spain

10:45 - 11:00

Bringing life to colour and colour to life

Neil Williamson, Colorifix

11:00 - 11:15


11:15 - 11:30

Earlham Biofoundry - unleashing the power of automation

Jose A. Carrasco Lopez, Earlham Biofoundry

11:30 - 12:20

Q&A Discussion Panel

Yvonne Armitage

Nicola Patron

Diego Orzáez

Neil Williamson

Anne Osbourn

Ross Overman

Harvey Branton

12:20 - 13:00

Group Networking on SpatialChat

13:00 - 13:30

Lunch Break

13:30 - 13:45

Welcome to Day 1, Session 2 (AI in Plant Science)

Neil Hall, Director of Earlham Institute

13:45 - 14:00

When AI meets Genomics

Anthony Hall, Head of Plant Genomics, Earlham Institute

14:00 - 14:15

Applications of ML/AI to biological research at the Alan Turing Institute

Sebastian Ahnert, Alan Turing Institute

14:15 - 14:30

AI in crop biology

Richard J Morris, Plant Health Programme Manager, John Innes Centre

14:30 - 14:45


14:45 - 14:50

Introduction to the Alan Turing Institute (ATI) Fellowship Programme

14:50 - 15:20

ATI Fellows Flash Presentations

Connor Reynolds, Earlham Institute
Jim Maas, John Innes Centre
Bethany Nichols, John Innes Centre
Ruth Veevers, The Sainsbury Laboratory

15:20 - 16:15

Q&A Discussion Panel

Sara-Jane Dunn
Laura-Jayne Gardiner
Coretta Kloeppel
Sebastian Schultheiss
Professor Anthony Hall
Sebastian Ahnert
Professor Richard J Morris
Ruth Bryant

16:15 - 17:00

Group Networking on SpatialChat

Day 2 - 18 November 2021



10:00 - 10:15

Welcome to Day 2, Session 3 (Omics approaches to study the human gut microbiome)

Neil Hall, Director of Earlham Institute

10:15 - 10:30

Introduction to Earlham Institute and Quadram Institute research in Human Microbiome

Tamas Korcsmaros, Group Leader, Earlham Institute and Quadram Institute

10:30 - 10:45

Network biology approaches to analyse host-microbiome interactions in the oral cavity

Lejla Gul, Earlham Institute

10:45 - 11:00

High-resolution metagenomics without the need for reference genomes

Falk Hildebrand, Group Leader, Earlham Institute and Quadram Institute

11:00 - 11:15

Resolving strains in the human microbiome from metagenome time series

Chris Quince, Group Leader, Earlham Institute and Quadram Institute

11:15 - 11:30

Real-time pathogen identification and AMR profiling with nanopore sequencing

Richard Leggett, Group Leader, Earlham Institute

11:30 - 11:45

Combining machine learning and systems biology based microbiome analysis for precision medicine

Matthew Madgwick, Earlham Institute and Quadram Institute

11:45 - 12:00

Ultrafast and highly accurate amplicon sequencing data analysis using LotuS2

Ezgi Ozkurt, Earlham Institute and Quadram Institute

12:00 - 12:30


12:30 - 13:15

Q&A Discussion Panel

Alison Mather
Alex Mitchell
Chris Quince
Falk Hildebrand
Johanne Brooks-Warburton
Richard Leggett
Tamas Korcsmaros

13:15 - 14:00

Group Networking on SpatialChat

Session Descriptions.

Session 1: Natural Products & Biomanufacturing

Living organisms are an important source of compounds used in medicine and industry, with many drugs being derived from bioactive natural products found in plants and microbes. At Earlham, we identify the genetic basis of chemical diversity and apply synthetic biology approaches to enable the biomanufacturing of rare and valuable molecules. This session will provide examples of gene discovery from plants, photosynthetic biomanufacturing of therapeutics and sex pheromones for controlling insect pests of agriculture, and how bioengineered microbes are being used to reduce the environmental impact of the textile industry.

We will also have an interactive discussion on how to discover and access novel natural products and the approaches for scaling up their production, considering partnering and collaborations that can enable this.

Q&A Panellists:

  • Yvonne Armitage, CPI (Chair)
  • Nicola Patron, Earlham Institute
  • Diego Orzáez, SUSPHIRE
  • Neil Williamson, Colorifix
  • Anne Osbourn, John Innes Centre
  • Ross Overman, Leaf Expression Systems
  • Harvey Branton, CPI

Session 2: AI in plant science

AI is a broad term used to describe different techniques used by computer and data scientists. AI aims to learn from data and improve from experience without explicitly being programmed to do so. With technologies for capturing information, from DNA sequences through to high resolution images, becoming ever cheaper and more widely available, the amount of data generated by these technologies is growing exponentially. Analysing huge datasets can create bottlenecks in research projects and, importantly, discoveries. Learning patterns from data can automate, reduce bias, and massively speed up key steps in research and, importantly, suggest connections that may have escaped the human mind.

The session will provide an overview of AI and ML tools and techniques developed at the Earlham Institute and John Innes Centre to advance plant science, from understand gene expression patterns in crops, to exploring complex new biochemical synthesis pathways.

We will showcase a collaboration between the Norwich Bioscience Institutes and the Alan Turing Institute aiming to explore the ways machine learning and artificial intelligence are applied to plant science research. We will present examples of the application of machine learning and artificial intelligence to characterising the circadian rhythms of plants, understanding how genetic changes affect plant structure and influencing crop yield, and identifying mechanisms used by plant pathogens to invade plants.

Q&A Panellists:

  • Sara-Jane Dunn, DeepMind (Chair)
  • Laura-Jayne Gardiner, IBM Research
  • Coretta Kloeppel, Elsoms Seeds
  • Sebastian Schultheiss, Computomics
  • Anthony Hall, Earlham Institute
  • Sebastian Ahnert, Alan Turing Institute
  • Richard J Morris, John Innes Centre
  • Ruth Bryant, RAGT

Session 3: Omics approaches to study the human gut microbiome

The UK has a world-leading position in the science of the microbiome especially as it relates to human health and wellness underpinned by the advances in genomics and systems biology approaches. This session will showcase EI and QIB expertise in studying the human microbiome and recent advances in metagenomic sequencing that can enable personalised (microbiome) medical treatments, e.g. cancer, antidepressants, antibiotics. We will present approaches for identification and profiling of microbiomes using nanopore sequencing, bioinformatics approaches, multi-omics analysis, network biology approaches and systems medicine. The session will provide examples of applications in oral health and the human gut. We will discuss how access to data can facilitate personalised approaches, standards in analysis and open access to aid academic-industry collaborations, academics working with clinicians and CROs.

Q&A Panellists:

  • Alison Mather, Quadram Institute (Chair)
  • Alex Mitchell, Eagle Genomics
  • Chris Quince, Earlham Institute and Quadram Institute
  • Falk Hildebrand, Quadram Institute and Earlham Institute
  • Johanne Brooks-Warburton, East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust
  • Richard Leggett, Earlham Institute
  • Tamas Korcsmaros, Earlham Institute and Quadram Institute