Cancun, MEXICO, April 27 - A town best known for raucous American college-kid revelry is an odd but fitting host for a convention featuring a comparison between chimp and human genomes and a study linking the MAOA polymorphism to alcoholism in males as compared to females.
Delegates who arrived early to the 8th annual International Human Genome Meeting, which opened here this evening and continues through Wednesday, would have crossed paths with the last of the tanned and tattooed spring break stragglers. (For those feeling too out of their element, A&E Mundo provided some comfort: "Venter y Collins" followed by Gattaca was the television channel's biography/cinema special on Saturday evening.)
More than 500 attendees from around the world are expected at the meeting, and the conference program points up the truly global significance of the human genome sequence. Workshops on genomic diversity and medical genomics will review studies of Y chromosome variation in Han Chinese, molecular characterizations of Tarahumara people in Mexico, genetic analysis of Parkinson's patients from Bashkortostan, and DNA typing of Tatar people with multiple sclerosis.
Also on the agenda are symposia and workshops on bioinformatics, cancer genomics, comparative genomics, DNA sequencing and analysis, microarrays, proteomics, SNPs, genomics and world health, and new genome technologies. On Tuesday evening Collins himself and HUGO founder Victor McKusick will co-chair a special session to commemorate the double helix anniversary and the genome sequence completion.
For those looking to spend two more days by the beach, the new Latin American Network of Bioethics will provide a good excuse. On Thursday and Friday, the group will hold a public forum with workshops on patents, gene therapy, population research, informed consent, and minors and incompetent adults. What better place?