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The Smell of Fresh Pencils

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The sight of so many ads for crisp, new, cartoon-festooned backpacks and for extra-long twin sheets for college dorm rooms means it is back-to-school time once again. And it's time to plan out the academic year, including which conferences to attend on an ever-dwindling travel budget. For help with balancing travel costs and travel opportunities, turn to this month's cover story, our biennial conference survey. More than 800 of you responded to our survey, which asked about the best general genomics meeting as well as favorite meetings by category. This year, the most recommended general genomics meeting is the annual Advances in Genome Biology and Technology, and what gets people excited about a meeting is the chance to hear new scientific data and results. Particularly in Florida in February.

Elsewhere in the issue, Christie Rizk reports on researchers' efforts to use pharmacogenomics to predict which patients may have adverse reactions to certain drugs. She finds that while there are still many questions about the clinical utility of some pharmacogenomic tests, they are moving ever closer to the clinic. And in this month's Brute Force, Matthew Dublin gives the lowdown on how Hadoop, a distributed computing platform, is winning the hearts of bioinformatics researchers.

Also, please head to our Web site to read a thought-provoking letter to the editor we recently received. Back in April, Meredith Salisbury's Comment column touched on challenges facing biobanks today, and Thermo Fisher Scientific's Trish Meek and Susan Najjar point out the role of a laboratory information management system in keeping track of biospecimens.

Finally, thank you for taking the time to complete our conference survey; it wouldn't be possible without your contributions. Speaking of your contributions, don't forget to look at this month's Blunt End. It's a crossword puzzle whose answers include some of the strangest — or most memorable — giveaways that survey respondents have received over the years. Pencils, somehow, didn't make the list.

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