Dr. S. Qasim Mehdi Memorial Symposium-Human Population and Disease Genomics

April 10 – 12, 2017

Venue: COMSTECH Secretariat, 33-Constitution Avenue, G-5/2, Islamabad, Pakistan.

Application Deadline: February 24, 2017

The OIC Standing Committee on Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH), Islamabad,   invites applications from OIC member states for participation in a symposium in honor of the late Professor S. Qasim Mehdi. Prof. S. Qasim Mehdi, a founding director of four genetic institutes in Pakistan, made seminal contributions to human population and disease genetics in Pakistan

The symposium has been scheduled to be held from April 10 to 12, 2017, at COMSTECH, Islamabad.

Applications are invited from researchers and students, especially those engaged in research on human population, disease genetics and genomics. The symposium will provide an opportunity to interact with leading researchers in the field of human genomics and nurture young researchers in the field.


The main objectives of the symposium are:

  • To honour Prof. S. Qasim Mehdi’s seminal contributions to human genetics research in Pakistan. As founding director of four genetic institutes in Pakistan, his contribution in establishing and mentoring talented students is unmatched.

    Many of Prof. Mehdi’s former students and colleagues are eminent scientists working at the cutting edge of human genomics. Eminent researchers and collaborators will be presenting their work in a befitting tribute to Professor Mehdi.

  • To provide up-to-date information on human population and disease genomics research.


Day 1 (p.m.):         Tribute to Dr. Mehdi
                               His Life and Times
Various speakers

Day 2:                    Population Genomics
                                Dr. Chris Tyler-Smith
Dr. Qasim Ayub
Dr.Yali Xue
Dr. Luca Pagani

Day 3:                     Disease Genetics and Genomics

                               Prof. Ghada El-Kamah
                               Prof. Shahid M. Baig
                               Dr. Shagufta Khaliq
                               Dr. Aisha Mohyuddin                      
                               Dr. Aiysha Abid                                 
                               1-3 Local speakers from submitted abstracts

  • The symposium will be spread over two and a half days and will start in the afternoon with a tribute to Prof. Mehdi with insights into his life and scientific career presented by his friends and colleagues.

  • This will be followed by two days of talks. The first day will focus on human population genomics and the second on disease genetics. Talks will focus on how genomic data has contributed towards the story of modern humans as they expanded from Africa to all corners of the globe and helped in understanding the genetic basis of disease.

  • In addition, each day there will be a presentation by young scientists working on human population and disease genetics whose abstracts have been short listed for presentation by the selection committee to encourage and nurture talented researchers in the field.

COMSTECH will provide free board and lodging to selected participants, from the OIC countries and residing outside the twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi. Travel grants are not available. Airport pick-and-drop service on arrival and departure will be provided to all participants upon prior information.


There is no registration fee for the participants.


Step 1: Download application form here.

Step 2: Read instructions in the application form carefully and submit properly filled form to hanifa@comstech.org /naveed@comstech.org and comstech@comstech.org

Step 3: Selected candidates will be notified by email. Therefore, candidates are required to regularly check their email account. Further instructions will be provided in the acceptance e-mail.

For queries, please contact:

Islamabad:                                                                 United Kingdom:

Hanifa Beg/Naveed Aamer                                      Dr. Qasim Ayub

Program Manager                                                       Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute

Tel:      +92-51-9220681-3                                          +44-1223-834244

Fax:     +92-51-9205264, +92-51-9220265                +44-1223-494919

Email:naveed@comstech.org                                     qa1@sanger.ac.uk




  1. Dr. Qasim Ayub
    The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
    Wellcome Genome Campus
    Hinxton, Cambridgeshire CB10 1SA
    United Kingdom

    Telephone:   +44 (0)1223 834244
    E-mail           qa1@sanger.ac.uk
  2. Dr. Luca Pagani
    Senior Research Fellow
    Estonian Biocentre
    Riia 23b, 51010
    Tartu, Estonia

    Telephone:   +39 3407862518
    E-mail           lp.lucapagani@gmail.com

  3. Dr. Chris Tyler-Smith
    Head Human Evolution
    The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
    Wellcome Genome Campus
    Hinxton, Cambridgeshire CB10 1SA
    United Kingdom
    Telephone:   +44 1223 834244
    E-mail           cts@sanger.ac.uk

  4. Dr. Yali Xue
    The Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute
    Wellcome Genome Campus
    Hinxton, Cambridgeshire CB10 1SA
    United Kingdom
    Telephone:   +44 1223 834244
    E-mail           ylx@sanger.ac.uk

  5. Prof. Ghada El-Kamah
    Coordinator HBD and Genodermatoses Clinics & Research Teams
    National Research Centre

    Telephone:      +2 01271225511
    E-mail:             ghadaelkamah@hotmail.com   

  6. Dr. Syed Shoaib Shah
    Shifa College of Medicine & Shifa Tameer-e-Millat University,
    Islamabad, Pakistan

    Telephone:      +92 51 8463795
    E-mail:             forensicshah@gmail.com 

  7. Dr. Shahid Mahmood Baig
    Dy. Chief Scientist
    Professor of Human Molecular Genetics

    Head, Health Biotechnology Division
    Group Leader Human Molecular Genetics Laboratory,
    Faisalabad, Pakistan

    Telephone:      +92 41 2551638
    E-Mail:             shahid_baig2002@yahoo.com

  8. Dr. Shagufta Khaliq,
    Associate Professor,
    Department Human Genetics & Molecular Biology,
    University of Health Sciences,

    E-mail:             khaliq.shagufta@gmail.com 

  9. Dr. Aisha Mohyuddin
    Professor at Shifa College of Medicine,

    E-mail:             aishamohyuddin@gmail.com 

  10. Dr.  Aiysha Abid
    Assistant Professor,
    Centre for Human Genetics and Molecular Medicine,
    Sindh Institute of Urology and Transplantation,
    Karachi, 74200, Pakistan

    E-mail:             aiyshaabid@gmail.com

Dr. Qasim Ayub

Dr. Qasim Ayub has been working with the Human Evolution Team at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, Hinxton, United Kingdom, since 2008. He obtained his Ph.D. from the University of North Texas, Denton, USA and joined Dr. Mehdi’s Biomedical and Genetic Engineering Laboratories in Islamabad in 1992. The laboratory became the focal point for understanding human genome variation in Pakistan as part of the Human Genome Diversity Project.

Over the last decade Dr. Qasim Ayub has contributed in the analysis of DNA variation in ethnic and linguistic groups from Pakistan, with particular emphasis on Y chromosomal variation, in order to understand their genetic origins and relatedness with world populations. In 2006 he was awarded the President of Pakistan’s Medal of Excellence (Tamgha-i-Imtiaz) for contributions to science. At the Sanger Institute he has developed a method that can be used to universally test for positive selection and adaptation signals in different gene sets and populations using whole-genome sequencing data. He continues to maintain his interest in human Y chromosomal variation and South Asian population genomics and is trying to understand the biological mechanisms underlying selected genetic variants in high altitude adaptation in the Himalayas.

Dr. Luca Pagani

Dr. Luca Pagani did his B.A. and M.Sc. in Molecular Biology at the Scuola Normale Superiore of Pisa, Italy, in 2007 and 2009, respectively, and obtained a Ph.D in Biological Anthropology from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom in 2013. He spent three years as a postdoctoral fellow at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and University of Cambridge, and is currently a Senior Research Fellow at the Estonian Biocentre in Tartu, Estonia.

Dr. Luca Pagani has always been fascinated by the migration events that brought a single African species of humans to colonize the whole planet. He uses biological data to understand the migration routes followed by our ancestors on their way out of Africa and unravel the genetic adaptation events that followed the occupation of diverse environmental niches out of Africa.

Dr. Chris Tyler Smith

Dr. Chris Tyler Smith is the senior group leader of The Human Evolution team at Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute, which generates data on worldwide genetic variation in humans and closely-related species, such as gorillas, and uses this information to investigate the human past. They are interested in the way humans have spread around the world, mixed, and also adapted to their environments throughout prehistoric and historic times. His background is in human molecular and evolutionary genetics, and from 1986 to 2003, his research in the Department of Biochemistry, University of Oxford, concentrated on understanding the structure and function of human centromeres, responsible for proper segregation of the chromosomes when the cell divides.

He and his team have contributed to large international projects such as the 1000 Genomes Project and African Genome Variation Project. Now, their focus is on understanding genetic variation in Africa more thoroughly, as well as variation in many other parts of the world including the Middle East, the Himalayas, the Pacific and the Americas. Their studies also include the functional consequences of genetic variants, including knockouts of human genes in healthy people, and modeling advantageous variants in mice or human cells.

Dr. Yali Xue

Dr. Yali Xue studied public health as an undergraduate, epidemiology for her master's degree, and medical and population genetics for the Ph.D. in Harbin Medical University, China. She collected samples from different ethnic groups in China and established cell lines from them, some of which are now included in the Human Genome Diversity cell line panel. In all, she studied human genetic diversity in China for 8 years, also making visits to the University of Oxford, United Kingdom and Cleveland University, USA during this period. She received the national scientific research award of China in 2005.

Dr. Yali Xue Joined Sanger in 2004, working initially on Y-chromosomal diversity, including involvement in the Genographic Project. Her focus has been more on identifying signatures of positive selection in the human genome. Since 2008, she has concentrated on applying new sequencing technology to address human evolution and population genetics questions, such as directly measuring Y mutation rate.

Prof. Shahid Mahmood Baig

Dr. Baig is serving as Head of Health Biotechnology Division and Group Leader Human Molecular Genetics Laboratory, National Institute for Biotechnology and Genetic Engineering (NIBGE), Faisalabad Pakistan. His research interests include gene identification in various inherited diseases in the Pakistani population and prenatal diagnosis of β-thalassemia. Dr. Baig initiated the molecular genetics of β-thalassemia at NIBGE after his PhD from Bosphorus University Turkey and Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad in 1995. He was a postdoctoral fellow at King Saud University Saudi Arabia and Duke University Medical Center, NC, USA. His research group has identified a number of novel disease causing genes, elucidated their functions and published the findings in high impact scientific journals. Dr. Baig has established research collaborations with scientists from several institutions in Sweden, Denmark, China, Germany and USA in the area of Human Molecular Genetics since 2007.

Prof. Baig has published extensively, with several papers in high-impact journals. In his career he has mentored 15 PhD and has received a number of awards including Sitara-i-Imtiaz from the government of Pakistan.

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