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Six Hundred Scientists and a Sequencing Frenzy

Here in Marco Island, Fla., giant jellyfish may have claimed the beach, but genome scientists have taken charge of the local Marriott hotel for the annual Advances in Genome Biology & Technology conference. While Thursday was the first official day of the event, Wednesday's pre-meeting workshop on next-gen sequencing was every bit as jam-packed as the rest of the sessions so far. Richard Gibbs from Baylor offered an overview of the market as it stands right now, noting that alongside the impressive performance of many of these machines still comes a lot of hype about what's possible. Currently, he said, sequencers are more notable for their horsepower than for their completeness and accuracy as compared to the gold standard Sanger sequence.

Thursday's sessions included highlights from Debbie Nickerson, who discussed using exome sequencing to find causative genes for Mendelian diseases, and Julie Segre, who updated attendees on advances in understanding the human skin microbiome. Follow the conference on Twitter or check out the more in-depth posts from Luke Jostins at Genetic Inference, Dan Koboldt at MassGenomics, or Anthony Fejes. And, of course, don't miss continuing coverage of AGBT at our sister publication, In Sequence.

The real marathon, though, came Thursday night with an increasingly competitive host of vendors vying to throw the best party. As far as Daily Scan can remember, you'd have to go back to the heady days of 2002 or so to see this conference with such participation from vendors, who have to be especially creative now that there's no exhibit hall. Life Technologies and Caliper hosted parties showing off their new instruments, while Complete Genomics and Ion Torrent offered plenty of opportunity to schmooze with fellow attendees. Friday night we're expecting fireworks (not the metaphorical kind) from Pacific Biosciences.

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