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GSAC Isn t Just GSAC Anymore


If there were ever any doubts that the Institute for Genomic Research would broaden the agenda of the annual Genome Sequencing and Analysis Conference beyond its title to address more topical issues in the field, the meeting’s 2001 itinerary should abate those. In its 13th year, GSAC, which will take place October 25-28 in San Diego, remains relevant.

While talks on sequencing, annotation, and comparative genomics show up on the agenda, there are also several sessions planned on SNPs and genotyping and a full morning dedicated to proteomics, including a talk on “biomedical opportunities” by GeneProt founder and Geneva University Hospital professor Denis Hochstrasser.

As one of the meeting’s three cochairs, Hochstrasser lined up lectures by a few fellow proteomics pioneers: John Yates of the Scripps Research Institute, Reudi Aebersold of the Institute for Systems Biology, and Dolores Cahill from the Max-Planck in Berlin will speak. Hochstrasser, who presented at the 2000 meeting, says genomic information is a crucial element of protein analysis. “Proteomics could not emerge quickly until we had the human genome,” he says. Conversely, he adds, protein information will enable genome researchers to move backwards to predict gene function, “so it makes sense to have a proteomics session.”

Yusuke Nakamura of the University of Tokyo Human Genome Center and event founder Craig Venter (who will fly in a day late directly from Spain, where he will be honored by the Crown Prince) will also co-chair.

GSAC organizers expect more than 3,000 attendees this year and upwards of 200 exhibitors. But in spite of the increasing commercial importance of the meeting and the transformation of genomics from elite academic pursuit to full-fledged business sector, organizers have managed to keep the scientific portion of the meeting true to its initial intent and relatively free of private-sector speakers. Celera’s Gene Myers, Richard Mural, and Scott Patterson and Rosetta’s Stephen Friend and Dan Shoemaker are the exceptions.

If you’re an attendee, beware: There will be more marketeers than ever competing for your attention outside the lecture hall. How to catch all the important science as well as check out the latest technologies being rolled out in the exhibit hall? Logging onto a few times might help: GenomeWeb’s on-site staff of eight reporters will post news stories from the show throughout the four-day event.

If you’re an exhibitor, we feel your pain. After months of busy preparation, the pressure is on for four days and three nights. We’re all thankful that booth duty doesn’t start until 11 a.m., but we know how much the late-night networking can take out of you.

Take heart: Opportunities for mixing fun with work are plentiful. Here, in the spirit of making the most of the madness, is GT’s second annual Freeloaders’ Guide to GSAC.


Booth Freebies

We all know you say they’re for your kids, but they really wind up in your office. For the professional freebie thief, a guide to the goods:

ApoCom Genomics, booth 111

Belgian chocolates
Applied Maths, booth 230

Yellow block puzzles, ultra-thin black mouse pads, black and yellow lanyards
Applied Precision, booths 727 & 729

Magnets and chocolate gold coins
AutoGen, booth 406

Mouse pad with floating frogs
Biomax Informatics, booth 419

Blue pens, blue and white mouse pad, blue metal containers of sweets
BioMed Central/GenomeBiology, booth 423

Easy-to-grip pen, silver with gold trim
Ciphergen Biosystems, booth 534

Calculator key chain (Friday), fabric Frisbees (Saturday), stress balls (Sunday)
And special guest: Donald Becker, creator of first Beowulf cluster
Compaq, booth 717

Magnetic plastic clips, post-it notes in matchbook cases
Compugen, booths 707 & 709

Bic Tri Stick pen, beige with teal tip and cap
DNATools, booth 826

White T-shirts,
DoubleTwist, booth 504

Global people stress balls, pens
Entropia, booth 529

Laminate your business card into a luggage tag
Executive BioSearch, booth 433

T-shirt, white with burgundy writing
and picture
Exiqon, booth 728

Blue tangle toys
GeneFormatics, booth 318

T-shirts (black with silver design), pens (silver barrel, dayglow clips), key rings (rectangle metal design), sunglasses and case (black case and glasses with dayglow arms), blue CD cases
Genetix, booths 702-708

Halloween Treats
GenomeWeb, booth 430

“Go Ahead, Make my DNA!” T-shirt, and inflatable palm trees
Genset Oligos, booth 812

“Geospiza of the Galapagos” T-shirts
Geospiza, booth 409

Tarot card reading during sneak preview, Thursday
InforMax, booths 525 & 527

Pens, blue stress balls, bendeez toys, blue key chains/bottle openers, pewter helix key chains, black tri-highlighters, laser balls
Integrated DNA Technologies,
booth 815

Yellow plastic tote bags
Macherey-Nagel, booth 304

T-shirts, in all sizes, highlighters and stylus pens
MWG Biotech, booths 133 & 135

Bendable bendeez and light-up purple bouncing balls
NetGenics, booth 334

Rosetta Inpharmatics, booth 313

Copies of Science, plastic pens, post-it pads
Science, booth 312

T-shirt, white with black writing
Silicon Genetics, booths 723 & 725

Stuffed mouse magnet
Stratagene, booths 822 & 824

Premier collection matte black pen in gift box
Transgenomic, booth 224

Candy mix, little packets of breath fresheners
Thermo Hybaid, booth 635



From former Affymetrix employee, exhibitor at three previous GSACs:

Loiter around the booths during the last few hours or half-day of the conference when vendors are getting rid of extra items. “For the serious freeloaders, pack an extra bag, and be there.”


Want More of a Challenge? Try These


These vendors aren’t giving away the loot to just any Tom, Dick, or Craig.

$1,500 worth of prizes including MP3 players
To win: compete in the Qiagen/Genome Technology Trivia Contest
Friday, Oct 26 and Saturday, Oct 27 at 5:15 pm. Location TBA

HP All-in-One Office System, Niketown Online Store Gift Certificate, Discovery Store Online Gift Certificate
To enter: visit booth for details. Agilent Technologies, booths 307-311

3-in-1 digital camera
To enter: give business cards at booth. ApoCom Genomics, booth 111

Package of bioinformatics software suite, vest, golf shirt
To enter: give business card at booth. Biotools, booth 326

Digital camera
To enter: drop off business card at booth. Genome Therapeutics, booth 509

DVD player
To enter: fill out entry form at booth, or leave business card
Hitachi Genetic Systems, booths 300 & 302

Another DVD player
To enter: Guess the number of genes in DoubleTwist’s database
DoubleTwist, booth 504

Magnetic books with recipes for strawberries, oranges, pepper, garlic
Condition: fill out questionnaire. Magnetic Biosolutions, booth 332

T-shirt, black with white writing
Condition: must be qualified lead
MJ Research, booths 606 & 608

Hoberman Mini Sphere and Hoberman Micro Sphere
Condition: must be qualified customer of GeneLinker Gold software or attend software demonstration.
Molecular Mining, booths 627 & 629

Smart Pad and a digital camera
To enter: Fill in entry card and bring it to booth.
MWG Biotech, booths 133 & 135

Blue mousepads
Condition: must be potential customer. Structural Bioinformatics, booth 428

SpotBot (worth $13,500), microarray robot with all accessories
To enter: write 50-word statement about why you should get SpotBot; winner writes best entry. TeleChem/ArrayIt, booths 832 & 834

Package of Starbuck’s coffee or large bar of Belgian chocolate
Condition: must be subscriber to journal. The Scientist, booth 507


Parties & free food

So the company’s not covering lavish meal expenses? Not to worry, your GSAC friends have you covered.


Thursday, October 25
4:30 pm - 5:30 pm: Exhibit Hall Sneak Preview — Free food throughout — InforMax

9:00 pm - 11:00 pm: Welcome reception in the San Diego Ballroom — OktoberTwist with German band and prizes — DoubleTwist


Friday, October 26

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm: Cocktail reception in the Marriott Cardiff Room — Spotfire

6:00 pm - 10:00 pm: Dinner party in the Marriott Hall — TIGR

8:00 pm - 10:00 pm: Cocktail reception in the Marriott Marina Ballroom D — Sun Microsystems

8:00 pm - 10:00 pm: Oktoberfest Reception with German beer and desserts in the Marriott Ballroom B — MWG Biotech

9:00 pm - 12:00 am: Dance party, open bar and canapés — GT All-Stars Awards Bash in the Marriott Bayside Pavilion — Genome Technology and Compaq


Time and place to be announced
Hollywood celebrity get-together. Food, drinks in a secret location, word of mouth only — get information from people at company booth— ArrayIt


Be Prepared

Yes, you’ll have trouble prying yourself away from the revels of GSAC. But if you do, here’s everything you’ll need for the escape — sticking with the GSAC freeloaders’ mentality, of course.

The Pinching Penny Tip: Buy a three-day unlimited travel ticket on San Diego public transit trolley ( for $10. Could beat $1.25 to $2.50 per ticket, based on distance.

The Thorough Travellers’ Tip: Check out for the latest information about what’s happening in San Diego before setting out on your trip

San Diego weather in October:
Average High: 74° Average Low: 60° Mean: 68°
Record High: 107° (1961) Record Low: 43° (1971)
Precipitation: 0.4 inches


Restaurants in the hotel area

$ - Pay for with loose change, or freebies traded for cash

$$ - If you’re on the expense account

Aqua Blu $$
Seafood with Asian flair
734 5th Ave, 619-544-6456

Bayou Bar & Grill $$
Cajun 329 Market, 696-8747

Blue Point Coastal Cuisine $$
Seafood with CA flair, great martinis
565 5th Avenue, 233-6623

Café Sevilla $$
Tapas, live music, flamenco dancers on weekends 555 4th Avenue, 233-5979

Chive $$
Ultra hip, American cuisine
558 4th Avenue, 232-4483

Croche’s $$
Jim Croche’s namesake, great jazz, very popular 802 5th Avenue, 233-4355

Old Spaghetti Factory $
Italian 275 5th Avenue, 233-4323

Sammy’s California Woodfired Pizza $
Wood-fired pizza
70 4th Avenue, 230-8888

Tupalo American $$
Varied American cuisine
340 5th Avenue, 231-3140

Bars & nightspots
in the hotel area

Note: many of the suggested restaurants are equally good bars

Dick’s Last Resort
Outdoor bar, live music
345 4th Avenue, 231-9100

Dublin Square
Irish pub
544 4th Avenue, 239-5818

On Broadway Event Center
Way upscale club
615 Broadway, 231-0011

The Onyx Room
Piano bar and club
852 5th Avenue, 235-6699

Best Free (or free-ish) things to do in San Diego

Balboa Park
1,200-acre park, full of museums, historic buildings, sports complex. Site of San Diego Zoo. Used as a stand-in for Xanadu in Citizen Kane. There is a free tram within park. Every weekend, different buildings in the park give out free snacks. Visitor’s Center: 239-0512
To get there: Hefty but walkable distance from the hotel
Or: Historic Trolley, $24 fare for entire route, stop #8. Buy tickets at Marriott Concierge Desk.

Go across the border
Tijuana, Mexico — ‘nuf said
To get there: Last stop on the San Diego transit trolley, blue line (San Ysidro/Tijuana)
Mexicoach shuttle runs from the trolley stop to downtown Tijuana for $2 per person round-trip, from 9am-9pm.

Go for a swim
Closest Beach: Coronado
To get there: Stop #6 on the Historic Trolley
Or: San Diego Water Taxi, getting off at Coronado. 10 am-10pm, $5 per person. 235-TAXI

Go for a stroll
Check out the reproduction gas streetlamps and party atmosphere in the Gaslamp Quarter: former red-light district and setting for numerous brothels and gambling halls (some owned by Wyatt Earp), once a popular visiting point for sailors at port
To get there: Walking distance from the Marriott

The Computer Museum of America
Exhibits milestones in development of computer industry
Free, closed Monday.
640 C Street, at 7th Street, 235-8222
To get there: Located in downtown, between Marriott and Balboa park

San Diego Maritime Museum
Visit three historic boats, including Star of India, oldest square rigged ship in the world that is still sailed
Admission: $6 or less
1306 North Harbor Drive, 234-9153
To get there: short walk from Marriott

Go on a cheap date
Find a spot to see the fireworks from Sea World, nightly at around 10 pm
Sea World: 226-3901

Look through cheap touristy nick-nacks at Seaport Village shopping district
To get there: Seaport Village is a short walk from Marriott

Embarcadero Marina Park
Check out the public fishing pier, have a picnic and run around on jogging and bike trails, and basketball courts
To get there: short walk from Marriott

Spy on seals
Get to Seal beach before 6:30 am, and see a hundred seals
To get there: 12 mile drive from Marriott, near La Jolla

Visit Cabrillo National Monument
144-acre park with trails, great views, whale overlook
Park fees are $5 per vehicle or $2 for walk-ins
1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive,
San Diego, (619) 557-5450
To get there: manageable drive from Marriott

Compiled by Alison McCook

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