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Life Sciences Take Center Stage at Pittcon 2003

NEW YORK, March 16 - The 23,000-plus visitors of this year's Pittcon, which ended Friday, were well advised to train for a marathon prior to touring the vast exhibition hall at Orlando's Orange County Convention Center.


Like the restaurants that line Orlando's International Drive, one analytical instrumentation company followed the other along two seemingly endless "highways" that were served by a tram to carry those tired of walking to their destinations.


Continuing the trend of the last few years, companies with life sciences products increased in number yet again this year, according to Beth Kirol, exposition chair of this year's conference. In addition, traditional instrumentation companies like PerkinElmer, ThermoElectron, Agilent Technologies, and Beckman Coulter continued devoting more space to displaying their instruments for biomedical research. "They are all jumping on the bandwagon," she said.


Proteomics in particular took center stage this year, with numerous product releases and two special lectures by pioneers of protein mass spectrometry techniques -- Nobel Laureate John Fenn and Fourier transform mass spectrometry veteran Fred McLafferty. In his talk, McLafferty focused on improvements in the five S's that have propelled mass spectrometry forward: sensivity, specificity, speed, simplicity, and $.


Companies displaying products for the proteomics market clustered mainly among the northern route of the hall, and Thermo Electron topped them all with its 6,500 square foot booth, manned by a staff of 270 who showed off products from Thermo's various business units. At the other end of the size spectrum were Proteome Systems and Zyomyx, who held their own among the neighboring mass spec and chromatography giants.


Both Thermo and Bruker Daltonics made a splash at the conference with their new hybrid Fourier transform mass spectrometers, which might well usher in a new era of proteomics, but Applied Biosystems and Waters didn't stand back, displaying their mass spectrometers prominently, and both Perkin Elmer and Beckman Coulter had entire sections of their booths marked "proteomics."


To make sure participants didn't drop dead from exhaustion, the conference days had a defined end: at 5 pm sharp, lights in the exhibit halls dimmed, instruments were covered up, and within minutes, the hustle-bustle dispersed onto International Drive and into hotel bars.


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