MD Anderson Cancer Center UTHealth
Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences

2018 Genetics & Epigenetics Program Retreat
September 22-23, 2018
La Torretta Lake Resort, Montgomery, TX

Retreat Program

Retreat Starts: Saturday, September 22 at 10:30 am (check-in starts at 9:00 am)
Retreat Ends: Sunday, September 23 at 3:00 pm

Retreat Location
La Torretta Lake Resort
600 La Torretta Blvd, Montgomery, Texas 77356
Tel: (936) 448-4400
La Torretta Property Map

Directions from Houston
- Take Interstate 45 North towards Conroe.
- Exit at 105 and turn left under the freeway.
- Continue west on 105 for 12 miles to Walden Road.
- Turn RIGHT on Walden and continue for 2 miles to La Torretta Blvd.
- Turn RIGHT on La Torretta Blvd and continue to hotel entrance (see parking info below).

 Directions from Smithville
- Take 71 East toward La Grange.
- Near La Grange, take 237 North and continue to 290.
- Go East on 290 toward Brenham.
- Outside Brenham take 105 East toward Navasota and Montgomery.
- Continue on 105 around Navasota to Freeport Drive on East side of Montgomery.
- Turn LEFT on Freeport Drive and continue about ½ mile to Walden Drive.
- Turn LEFT on Walden Drive and continue about 2 miles to La Torretta Blvd.
- Turn RIGHT on La Torretta Blvd and continue to hotel entrance (see parking info below).

Hotel Parking
Free parking is in the outside lot next to the Spa - see #4 on map. As you near the hotel property, you will come to an intersection with tennis courts and a mini golf course ahead and to the left. Turn left; the parking lot is at the end. Valet parking is available at your own expense at the hotel entrance. The cost is $18.00 for overnight parking (this covers both Saturday and Sunday).

Meeting & Hotel Check-in: Upon arrival, go to “Venice Ballroom” in the Conference Center (#12 on map) to pick up your meeting packet. Hotel rooms are not guaranteed until 4:00 pm (same time as Dr. Scott Armstrong's keynote address). Please check in after the keynote and group photo. Bus riders will be able to store their luggage in the conference center until  check-in. Please note - a credit card or debit card will be requested at check-in to cover any incidental expenses you might have. Debit cards will be assessed $50, which will be refunded 3-10 business days after the meeting if no expenses. Credit cards will be authorized but not charged unless there is an actual expense. If you have any concerns, contact Elisabeth Lindheim. 

Poster Set-up and Tear-DownPoster set-up starts Saturday morning at 9:30 am. Posters are numbered in alpha order, within three judging categories (see below), and will be set up in numerical order. Numbered, cardboard tri-fold stands will be set up the poster hall. The max poster size is 46” x 46”; the boards are actually 46”x48” but folds reduce the width. Push pins and velcro strips will be provided. Posters should stay up until 2:00 PM Sunday for judging purposes; please remove them at the end of the meeting. Meeting organizers are not responsible for any posters left behind. Poster Guidelines:  

Poster Session Schedule & Abstract BooksThere are two poster sessions: Odd numbered posters Saturday evening, and even numbered posters Sunday morning. A complete list of abstract titles and authors will be in the meeting packets. A limited number of abstract books will be available at the meeting registration desk and in the poster hall.

Judging and Awards: Posters will be judged in three categories by groups of three judges: (1) Pre-Candidacy, (2) Post-Candidacy, and (3) Postdocs, Instructors & Research Staff. The platform presenters will be judged in two groups: (1) Students and (2) Postdocs & Instructors. All award winners must be present at the awards presentation on Sunday at 2:45 pm to be eligible for the monetary portion of their award.

MealsAll meals are provided, starting with lunch Saturday and ending with lunch Sunday.

MD Anderson VPN Access Alert: We were advised that MD Anderson personnel attending a meeting at La Torretta within the last year had difficulty logging into the MD Anderson VPN while at the hotel. Please plan accordingly. 

Houston Bus InformationHouston bus leaves at 8:00 AM on Saturday from in front of BSRB. Boarding starts at 7:30 AM. The bus will depart La Torretta on Sunday at 3:30 PM; boarding starts at the end of the meeting (3:00 PM) in the same location as the drop off. On Sunday, the bus will stop at 2 locations in Houston: #1 BSRB and #2 UT Housing, 7900 Cambridge.

Smithville Bus Information:  Smithville bus leaves at 7:30 AM from the Science Park Conference Center. Boarding starts at 7:00 AM. On Sunday, the bus will depart La Torretta at 3:30 PM; boarding starts at the end of the meeting (3:00 PM) in the same location as the drop off. The bus will drop everyone off at the Smithville Conference Center. 

Saturday Evening Entertainment & Board Games There will be a student-organized entertainment program right after the poster session Saturday evening in the meeting hall. Join in for a fun lip sync/karaoke party. Costumes & fun songs welcome!  See flyer here. Afterwards, gather in the dining room across the atrium for lively board games and reception.

Sunday Morning Group Activities: There will be three organized group activities during the break Sunday morning at 11:00 AM: Biology “Field Day” Races, Sand Volleyball Game, and Miniature Golf (no charge). More information will be in the meeting packets.  A number of other recreational opportunities are available, including swimming in a heated pool, tennis (5 courts), racquetball (2 courts), beach, fitness center, and a fee-based spa.

Retreat QuestionsFor questions about the program, contact the meeting co-chairs, Sara Martin or Roxsan Manshouri. For registration or logistical questions, contact Elisabeth Lindheim or Becky Brooks.

We look forward to seeing you at the retreat this Saturday!  

Your 2018 Retreat Organizing Committee:  Amelie Albrecht, Becky Brooks, Dhruv Chachad, Pranavi Koppula, Elisabeth Lindheim, Roxsan Manshouri (Co-Chair), Sara Martin (Co-Chair), Dr. Pierre McCrea, Tolka Premkumar, Dr. Vrutant Shah, Melinda Soeung, Hieu Van


The Genetics and Epigenetics Program (G&E) will hold its annual retreat September 22-23, 2018 at La Torretta on Lake Conroe near Montgomery, Texas. Students, faculty, postdocs and other researchers in G&E program labs, along with all first year GSBS PhD students, are invited to participate.

The retreat offers trainees an outstanding opportunity to learn about the science being conducted in G&E Program labs, foster new collaborations, develop scientific presentation skills, and meet and get to know each other, the faculty and other researchers in a relaxed setting.

With the goal of facilitating scientific exchange and interactions among members of all program labs, the 2018 retreat will feature trainee research talks, two poster sessions, flash lab introductions by multiple faculty, and keynote address by Dr. Scott Armstrong of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard Medical School. In addition, there will be breakout session workshops on career & technology topics, and time to gather for informal exchange.

Saturday 9/22/18

 9:00 – 10:30a             Registration / Poster Set-up
10:30 – 12:00p            Welcome Remarks and Platform Session #1
12:00 – 1:30p              Lunch
 1:30 – 2:30p               Platform Session #2
 2:45 – 3:45p               Career Panel and Faculty Mentorship Panel
 4:00 – 5:00p               Keynote Address: Dr. Scott Armstrong
 5:00 – 6:00p               Group Photo and Hotel Check-In
 6:00 – 7:30p               Dinner
 7:30 – 8:30p               Poster Session A
 8:30 – 9:30p               Entertainment Program
 9:30 – 11:00p             Evening Social with Board Games

Sunday 9/23/18
 7:00 – 8:45a               Breakfast
 9:00 – 10:00a             Platform Session #3
10:00 – 11:00a            Poster Session B
11:00 – 12:00p            Group Recreation Activities
12:00 – 1:30p              Lunch
 1:30 – 2:30p               Breakout Session (3 concurrent workshops)
 2:45 – 3:00p               Closing Remarks & Awards Presentation
 3:00p                          Meeting ends