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Organizers of New Genomics Meeting Promise More Science, Less Marketing

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MARCO ISLAND, Fla.--A new scientific meeting for the genomics community that was organized by four noted researchers as an alternative to the Institute for Genomic Research’s annual Genome Sequencing and Analysis Conference has already attracted more registrants than organizers anticipated. Advances in Genome Biology and Technology will be held here February 5-8.

Organizers of the event, also known as G2K: Back to Science, contended that the TIGR meeting is losing scientific value as it becomes increasingly commercial. According to Elaine Mardis, director of technology development at the Washington University Genome Sequencing Center who helped recruit speakers for G2K, the meeting here next week will have a strong emphasis on scientific poster presentations and will feature presentations that were chosen from among 200 submitted abstracts.

G2K is expected to draw nearly 500 attendees and 38 exhibitors (see list, p. 4) to an oceanfront venue here. (By comparison, TIGR’s last meeting in Miami in September drew 2,100 attendees and 95 exhibitors). Amersham Pharmacia Biotech, Biowhittaker Molecular Applications, Incyte Pharmaceuticals, MWG Biotech, PE Biosystems, and Robbins Scientific are the meeting’s sponsors.

The meeting’s four co-chairs are Richard Gibbs, director of the Baylor Human Genome Sequencing Center at Baylor College of Medicine; Eric Lander, director of the Whitehead/MIT Center for Genome Research; John Sulston, director of the Sanger Centre’s Wellcome Trust Genome Center, and Robert Waterston, who directs the Genome Sequencing Center at Washington University in St. Louis.

Francis Collins, head of the National Human Genome Research Institute, will kick off the meeting with a state-of-the-Human-Genome-Project address. An invitation they extended to TIGR’s founder and the president of Celera Genomics, Craig Venter, did not elicit a response, Mardis said.

The three-day agenda includes five-and-a-half hours of presentations discussing the progress of several genome projects. Eric Green of the US National Human Genome Research Institute’s Intramural Sequencing Center and John McPherson of Washington University’s Genome Sequencing Center will present mouse genome mapping research. Richard McCombie of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory will discuss progress on Arabidopsis sequencing. Stefan Beck of the Sanger Centre will cover genomic comparisons between human and chicken in the HMC locus. Lynn Doucette-Stamm will discuss Genome Therapeutics’ human and mouse genomics work. Susan Naylor of University of Texas at San Antonio will explain work on human chromosome 3. Sanger Centre’s Mike Quail will discuss bacterial pathogen sequencing. Sandy Clifton, who heads Washington University’s microbial genome projects, will offer a comparison of two similar salmonella genomes.

Other sessions will address functional genomics, computational biology, and technologies. In addition, three concurrent breakout sessions will address DNA sequencing technologies, microarrays, and SNP detection methods. A fourth concurrent session will be a workshop during which sequencing center administrators from Washington University and Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory discuss pricing, service contracts, and organizational issues.

A closing session on future directions in genomics will feature presentations by Andy Watson of Quantum Dots, a San Diego, Calif. firm; Steven Williams, of Aclara Biosciences, on that company’s development of microarrays on plastic chips; and Tom Gingeras of Affymetrix on high density oligo arrays for studying infectious disease processes.

--Adrienne Burke

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