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Meeting Numbers Indicate Bioinformatics Is Booming ; Over 600 Will Attend ISMB

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HEIDELBERG, Germany--Interest in the seventh Intelligent Systems in Molecular Biology meeting being held here August 6-10 has taken sponsors by surprise. After 600 people signed up, organizers were forced to close registration, said Thomas Lengauer, organization committee coordinator and a professor at the German National Research Center for Information Technology.

Advance registration for the meeting jumped by 200 over last year's show, which ultimately pulled in some 450 attendees. Lengauer attributed the conference's growth to a number of factors, including the increasing importance of bioinformatics for molecular biology, medicine, and the pharmaceutical industry. He added that the conference series has been building a strong reputation that is enhanced by its affiliation with the International Society for Computational Biology, which conducts the conference.

Another draw is the conference's program, he said, which consists of lectures, contributed papers, approximately 160 posters, and 10 tutorials. Presentations are focused on development and application of advanced computational methods for biological problems, with emphasis on validation of methods using real datasets, practical applications in the biological sciences, and development of novel computational techniques.

When asked about the swelling interest in the annual event, Reinhard Schneider, vice-president of bioinformatics at Lion Bioscience and a local organizer for the conference, replied, "Bioinformatics is booming." High demand for bioinformaticians is attracting students, academics, and professionals alike, he said. Schneider observed that among those registered, a higher percentage of industry scientists will be attending this year, especially from pharmaceutical companies.

Lengauer noted that one other attraction for attendees is the total solar eclipse that will occur south of Heidelberg on August 11.

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