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SBS, ISAC Forge Alliance to Devise High-Content Screening Standards

SEATTLE (GenomeWeb News) — A plan by the Society for Biomolecular Sciences and the International Society for Analytical Cytometry to join forces in a cell-based assay conference next year could provide the organizational structure to create data and image analysis standards for high-content screening, according to industry experts.
 
The SBS and ISAC plan to co-chair a session on cell-based assays at SBS’ next annual meeting in April, and plan to co-sponsor a separate workshop on data and image analysis in high-content screening around the same time, representatives from both organizations said this week.
 
Leaders from both organizations disclosed their plan at SBS’ annual meeting, held here this week. The groups apparently began discussing the possibility of co-chairing a cell-based assay session during ISAC’s biennial meeting in Quebec City earlier this year.
 
During the SBS meeting, Paul Robinson, director of the Purdue University Cytometry Laboratories and current president of ISAC, said there is a good chance that a workshop on HCS data and image analysis “will occur within six or seven months, but we need to have SBS and ISAC involvement.”
 
SBS President Al Kolb told GenomeWeb Daily News' sister publication Cell-Based Assay News during the conference that “at SBS 2007 in Montreal, ISAC is going to be co-chairing a session with SBS on cell-based assays, because ISAC has a tremendous depth of knowledge, but more from an academic viewpoint; while SBS has a tremendous depth of knowledge in cell-based assays and technologies from an industrial viewpoint.
 
“I think it would be good to have more of a mix of academia and industry in this area,” said Kolb. “We’ve been trying to do that, and this is a good way to do it.”
 
Other attempts to create HCS image standards have progressed slowly thus far. For example, at an HCS end-user forum at Cambridge Healthtech Institute's High-Content Analysis meeting in January National Institute of Standards and Technology representative John Elliott led a discussion group that veered toward HCS standardization issues.
 
The discussion led Elliott and some NIST colleagues to begin considering forming an industry-wide consortium to help guide the development of image analysis standards (see CBA News, 2/10/2006). But that effort has stalled as NIST has found it difficult to pull together various HCS vendors.
 
SBS and ISAC organizers therefore believe that the participation of industry- and academia-focused professional organizations like their own may provide the additional structural organization and incentive needed to achieve HCS standards. They would likely welcome NIST on board, Kolb said.
 
“We don’t want to leave groups out, but we do want to keep it controlled so we can make progress,” Kolb said. “Anyone who has already been working in this area could take advantage of their expertise to make this work for everyone.”
 

The complete version of this article appears in this week’s Cell-Based Assay News, a GenomeWeb News sister publication.