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Let's Hope the Cat Isn't on Its Ninth Life

The annual Advances in Genome Biology and Technology meeting hadn't even officially kicked off yet when attendees horded the conference room to hear field leaders discuss recent advances in next-gen sequencing. At a pre-meeting workshop -- that's right, the conference is so full of yummy sequencing goodness that some of it had to be given pre-meeting status -- scientists from the Broad Institute, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the University of Washington, Joint Genome Institute, and other institutions talked about a range of next-gen challenges, from single-cell work to applications like transcriptomics and epigenomics.

While many attendees are new to the meeting, the old guard here at Marco must have been especially pleased with a few statements made today. In a talk on hybrid capture techniques, Jay Shendure noted that these approaches are only used on large genomes: "We don't even think about targeting" for bacterial or nematode-scale genomes, he said. (The Daily Scan remembers when even those genomes gave sequencers a run for their money.) Similarly, Daniel Zerbino from EMBL said in a talk on computational aspects that analysis for bacterial genomes is "now routine on desktop hardware." My, how times have changed.

And it was McGill's Ken Dewar who brought the comic relief to the afternoon session. Kicking off a talk on his genome sequencing center, Dewar took a moment to consider politics. Noting the optimism among US scientists due to President Obama's stated commitment to restore science to its rightful place, Dewar reported that Canadian scientists face a very different landscape. He flashed up this picture of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper:
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"You might make a claim," Dewar deadpanned, "that that little cat that he's strangling is called research." We feel your pain, Ken.