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Bioinformatics Gatherings Around the Globe Vie for International Attendance

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NEW YORK--Five international conferences will compete for attention from the global bioinformatics community in the coming two weeks. Meetings in Asia, Europe, and the US will offer agendas packed with discussions about the latest applications for bioinformatics tools. Organizers of some of the events expect several hundred attendees. The meetings are:

• SNPs and Pharmacogenomics: Science Applications and Business Models, September 27-29 in San Diego, Calif.;

• Bioinformatics, September 30-October 1, followed by Functional Genomics, October 4-6 in Seattle;

• The German Conference on Bioinformatics, October 4-6 in Hannover, Germany;

• The 10th International Congress on Genes, Gene Families and Isozymes, October 5-10 in Beijing.

Here are previews of each event. For more information or to link to conference agendas, visit the BioInform calendar at http://www.bioinform.com.

SNPs and Pharmaco- genomics-- Arthur Holden, chairman and CEO of the recently established SNP Consortium will give a keynote address at this meeting, which is being promoted as the "first event to bring together all the scientific and business implications of single-nucleotide polymorphisms and their current and potential use in pharmacogenomics." Global Business Research, the conference host, expects as many as 125 attendees. Organizers said single-nucleotide polymorphisms, which were added to the pharmacogenomics agenda for the first time this year, have proven to be a "hot topic."

Presenters will cover four categories: science and technology advances, pharmaceutical user perspectives, making use of SNPs in pharmacogenomics, and business models and strategies.

Joel Bader, principal investigator at CuraGen will present a lecture on maximizing SNP value with bioinformatics, including a description of how his firm's GeneScape system integrates SNP data with large-scale gene expression profiles and clinical outcomes to maximize the value from SNPs. Other featured speakers include Alan Schafer, vice-president, genetics for Incyte Pharmaceuticals, who will discuss SNP-discovery and applications in target discovery and pharmacogenomics; David Robbins, research manager for SmithKline Beecham, who will talk about how bioinformatics and other technologies will derive value from SNPs; and Michael Shi of Parke-Davis Pharmaceutical Research, who will describe a case study for applying SNP genotyping in drug development and clinical trials.

Bioinformatics--Discussions by some 20 scientists and entrepreneurs covering a variety of bioinformatics tools applications will be followed by a half-day symposium called "Strategic opportunities in bioinformatics: maximizing value and forging corporate alliances," which will include an investment banker's perspective on bioinformatics and a discussion on patenting bioinformatics inventions. The two-day meeting, organized by IBC Conferences, will be followed by a three-day Functional Genomics meeting in the same venue.

From the private sector, bioinformatics experts from companies including Affymetrix, Cellomics, Congenomics, CuraGen, Gene Logic, InforMax, Incyte, Molecular Mining, NetGenics, Neomorphic, Pangea Systems, Proteome, Silicon Genetics, and Tripos will present discussions of gene sequence, function, and annotation as well as gene expression and clustering, datamining, and data integration. From the public sector, scientists from the US National Cancer Institute, the Naval Medical Research Institute, the National Center for Biotechnology Information, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the University of Minnesota's High Performance Computing Research Center will also speak.

Functional Genomics--Followed by a half-day preconference symposium entitled "Integrating Proteomics into your Functional Genomics Program," the agenda for Functional Genomics is broken into two sessions: high-throughput functional genomics and identification and validation of new drug targets.

The integration symposium will include remarks by scientists from Cambridge Antibody Technologies, Millennium Predictive Medicine, Oxford GlycoSciences, Proteome, and the University of Washington.

On the topic of high-throughput functional genomics, presentations include "Innovative technologies to determine gene function and to validate therapeutic gene targets," by Klause Giese of Atugen Biotechnology, "Automated processes in gene discovery," by Janice Culpepper of Millennium Pharmaceuticals, and "Genome mining with ultrasensitive fluorescent biosensors for rapid target identification and pathway elucidation," by Kleanthis Xanthopoulos of Aurora Biosciences.

Addressing the theme "identification and validation of new drug targets," speakers include: Martin Leach of CuraGen on "Using genomic data to put genes into context," Doron Lancet of the Weizmann Institute on a "Genome integration supertool for human genes, maps, and sequences," and Stephen Friend, chief scientific officer of Rosetta Inpharmatics on "Strengths and weaknesses of the current applications of expression profiling."

German Conference on Bioinformatics--This annual meeting, now in its 15th year, is "devoted to all topics in computational biology." Organizers said that in recent years the meeting has drawn about 200 participants, mostly from Europe with substantial US representation. The traditional majority academic attendance is expected to shift this year, as it is the first time the event has been held in conjunction with the Biotechnica trade fair in Hannover. The three-day agenda includes discussions of sequence, structure and function relations, molecular and genome evolution, genome analysis, proteins and drug design, metabolic and regulatory networks, and intelligent biological databases.

10th International Congress on Genes, Gene Families and Isozymes--Nearly 300 participants are expected in Beijing for this biannual meeting, which includes, for the first time this year, an extensive bioinformatics program. Hwa Lim, president of the bioinformatics company D-Trends, organized the bioinformatics portion of the meeting and will speak on the commercialization of informatics technologies. "Academic scientists tend to focus on basic research without considering how it can be applied commercially," he remarked. Lim said he intends to encourage researchers to consider how their data or tools might be useful for the commercial sector.

The program includes 10 other speakers on bioinformatics. Ralf Hofestaedt of the University of Magdeburg in Germany will present a discussion of biological networks. Steen Knudsen of the Technical University of Denmark will discuss using bioinformatics to help understand whole cells. Cathy Wu of the University of Texas will speak about protein classification for genomic research. Andrea Califano of IBM's Computational Biology Center will "show how to exploit computer architecture to do pattern recognition and display graphics in a useful way," said Lim. Yoshio Tateno of Japan's National Institute of Genetics will lecture on "human leukocyte antigen genome analysis in view of information biology." Julio Collado-Vides of CIFN-UNAM in Mexico will present a discussion of transcriptional regulation and post-genome integrative challenges. Other bioinformatics speakers are representatives of large pharmaceutical companies: Novartis, Glaxo Wellcome, and Boehringer Ingelheim.

--Adrienne Burke

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