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Objects In Bioinformatics, Drug Discovery Technology

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Two other meetings for bioinformatics professionals will take place in the US this month: Objects in Bioinformatics will be held in San Jose, Calif., August 19-21, and Drug Discovery Technology will take place in Boston, August 16-19.

Objects in Bioinformatics is being organized in Silicon Valley by the Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Genomics at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The conference, held in previous years at the European Bioinformatics Institute near Cambridge, UK, is mainly concerned with the role of object-oriented technology, reusable software components, design patterns, and distributed computing in bioinformatics and computational genomics.

Registration for Objects in Bioinformatics is down by about 50 percent, with only around 100 people signed up so far, but organizers expect registration to pick up as the conference date gets closer, said Manfred Zorn, conference chair. "Since this year's conference will be in San Jose, I expect a number of walk-ins from surrounding biotech companies," commented Zorn.

Existing, operating, object-oriented applications are the focus of the gathering. "Forget about the theory, let's see what you have done, what you've learned, and what are the exciting applications," explained Zorn, who added that there will be presentations on genome annotation and large-scale frameworks.

One major topic will be the first submission from the Life Science Research domain task force to the Object Management Group. While the "official discussion" will take place during OMG's technical committee meeting the following week at the same venue (see related article, this page), anyone will be able to preview and discuss the biosequence analysis submission during a mini-workshop on Friday, August 20, said Zorn.

Extensible markup language or XML technology will get the spotlight in the same way that corba technology did at last year's show, Zorn noted. XML will be viewed in the context of: encoding for metadata in the biosequence analysis submission to OMG; as potential encoding for an ontology of molecular biology; and as the basis for software tools.

On a larger scale, the Drug Discovery Technology meeting plans to accommodate from 1,300-1,500 attendees, a leap from last year's 850 attendees, said Michael Keenan, senior conference manager at IBC USA Conferences, the show's organizer. Such high attendance is likely due to high-profile keynote speakers, an affiliation with American Chemical Society short courses, and drug discovery case history presentations that will be given by pharmaceutical companies, he added. The theme for this fourth annual meeting is integrating research and technology for faster drug discovery, including discussions of how different departments at pharmaceutical companies can cooperate to speed the process.

Among those scheduled to give keynote addresses are: Leroy Hood, chairman of the molecular biotechnology department at the University of Washington; Michael Pavia, chief technology development officer at Millennium Pharmaceuticals; George Poste, chief science and technology officer at SmithKline Beecham Pharmaceuticals; and Stuart Schreiber, codirector of Harvard University's Institute of Chemistry and Cell Biology. The sold-out exhibit hall will have about 168 booths compared to about 100 last year.

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