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Despite SARS, Most Life Sciences Conferences Go On as Planned

NEW YORK, April 22 -   The life sciences conference circuit so far seems little affected by the global epidemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome, despite the rising number of cases in Canada, travel advisories for inbound and outbound passengers between the US and Asia, and the quarantine of over 300 conference attendees at a Montrealbusiness conference last week.


Organizers of the American Society for Mass Spectrometry conference, which is to be held in Montreal's Palais de Congres June 8 to 12, told GenomeWeb  yesterday they are continuing full steam with their conference preparations. There have been no reported cases of SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, in Montrealas yet, an ASMS spokesperson pointed out.


But attendees of a business conference in Montreal were just released from home quarantine today, which the local public health authorities ordered after discovering that a person from Torontowith a suspected case of SARS had attended the conference, according to Canadian press reports.


SARS has so far infected 316 people in Canadaand has killed as many as 15, Reuters reported today. The epidemic has infected at least 3,600 people around the world, and the numbers of infections continue to rise daily.


Even if SARS does spread to Montreal, the ASMS conference will go on, the spokesperson said, because too much planning, organization, and money has gone into the conference to cancel now.


Neither IBC Life Sciences nor Cambridge Healthtech Institute, which sponsor a number of conferences in the genomics and proteomics sector, have cancelled or changed dates for any conferences. (However, IBC Asia has changed venues for some non-life sciences conferences and issued health advisories on the conference web sites.)


The only conference to be postponed so far has been the BIO-IT World Conference & Expo Singapore, which has been moved from May 28-29 to August 6-7, "in view of the health concerns from the recent SARS outbreak."


The American Association for Cancer Research meeting in Toronto was also cancelled earlier this month due to the epidemic.


The US Centers for Disease control has offered travel advisories for outbound travel from the USto China- including Hong Kong- Vietnam, and Singapore. It has also issued an advisory urging travelers to Torontoto take special health precautions, and is greeting land travelers from Canada, along with air passengers from China, Vietnam, Singapore, and Canada, with cards that tell them to monitor their health for symptoms of SARS and to have their physician contact their health department if symptoms appear.


GenomeWeb coverage of SARS 
Canadian Team Sequencing SARS Virus  (Apr 9, 2003)

CDC Hails SARS Virus Sequencing, Discusses PCR Diagnostic Development   (Apr 14, 2003)

CDC Completes SARS Virus Genome Draft On Heels of Canadian Team  (April 14, 2003)

Canadian Team Leader: SARS Coronavirus Genome Has 11 Novel ORFs  (April 15, 2003)
CombiMatrix Creates Microarray Based on SARS Genome Data  (April 16, 2003)
Coronavirus Linked to SARS: WHO (April 16, 2003) 

Singapore Genome Institute Joins SARS Sequencing Fray (April 16, 2003)

Singapore Team Finishes SARS Virus Genome; Canadian Scientists Identify Viral Proteins (April 17, 2003)

University of Manitoba Proteomics Researchers Tackle SARS Virus Proteins (ProteoMonitor, April 21, 2003)

Beijing Group Publishes Four SARS Sequences from Mainland China, Claims To Have One-Hour SARS Test (April 21, 2003)

CDC: SARS PCR Tests Still Being Evaluated, More Viral Sequences Needed (April 22, 2003)

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