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Glimpse into history

In June 2000 the Estonian Genome Foundation introduced to the Estonian government the Estonian Genome Project, and lobbied for legislative changes and government support to make the project possible. Today the Estonian Genome Project is known as Estonian Biobank, which has established a population-based biobank of Estonia with a current cohort size of more than 200,000 individuals, providing researchers with a unique dataset to analyze the impact of DNA on health, diseases, and treatment outcomes. With 20% of Estonia’s adult population contributing, the biobank stands as a vital resource for cutting-edge medical science globally.

Late in the year 2000, when it was clear that we can go ahead with the preparation of the Estonian Genome Project, Dr. Jaanus Pikani and I pondered over how to foster public engagement within Estonia and draw global attention. Obvious solution was, of course, to organize an international human genomics conference, which would attract participants from Estonia and speakers from abroad.

My prior experience in organizing the international HUGO workshop on microarrays in 1999 in Tartu, which attracted a global audience including attendees from California, bolstered my confidence that a compelling program would indeed encourage visitors to journey to this far-away corner of the Europe. Dr. Pikani brought invaluable insights from his role as the organizer of the Pärnu Management Conference, which initially influenced our conference format, including having speakers seated on stage during sessions. However, we soon transitioned to a more conventional format with solo speakers on stage. A steadfast tradition was established to extend invitation to one Estonian scientist who works abroad (with the hope to welcome them back in future!) and one Estonian speaker – “a local star”

Over the span of 24 years, the conference has welcomed more than 400 eminent speakers from 34 different countries, including Nobel Prize laureates such as Rolf M. Zinkernagel and Svante Pääbo. Over the years, we have also included technology industry representatives, fnancial and start-up experts to present these fields to the local academic community.

Academician Andres Metspalu
Institute of Genomics, University of Tartu
Professor of Genomics and Biobanking


Institute of Genomics, University of Tartu was established to promote greater synergy between genomic-based research, teaching, and other scientific fields. Our objective is to actively participate in the implementation of scientific advancements across public and private sectors, contributing significantly to the application of research findings.

Institute of Genomics also home to the Estonian Biobank, a rich repository of genetic and health information from over 200,000 participants, which serves as a cornerstone for personalized medicine in Estonia and beyond.

Estonian Genome Foundation was established in 1999 in Tartu, Estonia by a group of 34 individuals that included three later Presidents of Estonia. The vision was to advance genetic research and support students and researchers in the field of gene technology. The initial task of the foundation was to pave the ground for the Estonian Biobank. Currently the foundation supports biotechnology research and the exchange of information and knowledge and awards annual stipends to students in the relevant fields to genomics.

Meet our programme committee members

Meet our organizing committee

Contact us

Contact info: Kaisa Kuus / Merit Kreitsberg


Past events

Gene Forum 2023 (Hybrid meeting)

Gene Forum 2022 (Hybrid meeting)

Gene Forum 2021 (Online conference)

Gene Forum 2020 (cancelled due to COVID-19 pandemic)

Gene Forum 2019 – Genomics – towards improving medicine 

Gene Forum 2018Precision medicine – new reality

Gene Forum 2017Big data in personalized medicine

Gene Forum 2016Personal Genome and Beyond

Gene Forum 2015Genomics – It’s Getting Personal

Gene Forum 2014Omics Meets Genomics

Gene Forum 2013Integrating Genomics and Medicine

Gene Forum 2012Genetic Association Studies

Gene Forum 2011Genetics of Complex Phenotypes

Gene Forum 2010 – Functional and Complex Genetics

Gene Forum 2009New Frontiers in Genomics

Gene Forum 2008Functional Genomics

Gene Forum 2006Basic Genomics

Gene Forum 2005Genetic Medicine: An Array of Opportunities

Gene Forum 2004Genomics to Medicine

Gene Forum 200350 Years of Double Helix  

Gene Technology Forum 2002Personalized Medicine: Myth or Reality

Gene Technology Forum 2001 

Gene Technology Forum 2000