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2002 Would Be a Great Year for Genomics …if:

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Martin Gollery suggests some New Year’s resolutions

 

Things I hope to see in the New Year: In 2002 I hope to hear about more companies that focus on people, science, and business plans rather than buildings and furniture. Too many good people have been fleeing from some really beautiful facilities recently. How about making the money before you spend it? Corporate pride is one thing; corporate excess is another.

Now, about the kinds of computer systems we are using: I’d like to see server rooms filled with systems that have come from some sort of consistent plan. Heinz may have 57 varieties, but that doesn’t mean that you should have that many types of servers. Boy, I have seen some really remarkable examples of this problem recently. One place seemed to be on a mission to acquire one of every type of computer. What a mess to support!

I always respect people who focus on the job more than on the tools of the job. The wheel does not have to be reinvented every time by every organization. I’d like to see more people recover from ‘Not Invented Here’ syndrome. If the tool is not exactly what you need, perhaps you can work with the manufacturer to make it just right. Collaboration can be a wonderful thing!

As an attendee of numerous industry conferences, I’ve got a wish list specifically for those too. To start, I’d like to see academics disclose industry connections, SAB memberships, and consulting contracts when they are giving talks, reviewing papers, or expressing an opinion that affects them financially. We have all seen how such alliances affect people’s behavior. I have heard more stories about conflicts of interest than I have time to relate.

While we are talking about presenters, it sure is a lot nicer when they get copies of their slides into the program, isn’t it? I know they are subject to change, but even if the order is different, it’s still easier to take notes if you have a copy of the slides.

I prefer presenters who provide some real-world evidence that their products work — perhaps even the filenames used — rather than simply waving their hands about results. I recently tried to make some sense of a benchmark test that analyzed “100,000 ESTs” in a certain amount of time. How long were those sequences on the average? And could you please specify the release of the database? Some aren’t numbered, but many are, and it obviously makes a big difference as to which one you use. This is not a stagnant industry, the databases grow rapidly, and we need to acknowledge that.

Also, don’t you like it when the folks in the audience identify themselves and their affiliations before they ask a question? This helps us put the question into context. For instance, when the speaker from Enormous Genomics gets a pesky question from an employee of RivalStartup, we can take the criticism with a grain of salt. Or, for that matter, if someone has done great work in the field, we might lend a bit more credence to the argument. At least they understand the technology.

Most importantly, I’d like to see us working together diligently, giving ourselves selflessly, and contributing generously, just as we did last year, keeping in mind the results that we are all working for: a better place for us all to live in the years to come.

 

Opposite Strand is a forum for readers to express opinions and ideas about trends and issues in genomics. Submissions should be kept to 550 words and may be submitted to [email protected]

 

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