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RECOMB 2000 Reports Cover Latest in Gene Networks and DNA Chips Research

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OKYO--Organizers of the Fourth Annual International Conference on Computational Molecular Biology, to be hosted by the University of Tokyo Human Genome Center April 8-11, have promised registrants an agenda packed with top-quality computational biology and bioinformatics papers. More than 250 attendees are expected.

Highlights of the event will be discussions of applications of DNA chips, gene networks, structural biology, phylogeny, sequence analysis, and mass spectroscopy, among other topics. The conference, also known as RECOMB 2000, has been coordinated by program committee chair Ron Shamir of Tel-Aviv University and organizing committee chair Satoru Miyano of the University of Tokyo.

Shamir told BioInform that competition for speakers was heated. A 27-person program committee comprised of the field’s leading experts carefully selected 36 papers from among 110 submitted abstracts. "The number of quality submissions was much more than we could accommodate in a four-day program," Shamir remarked, adding that presenters will hail from 22 nations.

Some 120 posters will also be featured during two poster sessions at the meeting. Posters will also be published by Universal Academy Press in a book titled "Currents in Computational Molecular Biology."

Minoru Kanehisa of Kyoto University, will open the meeting with the Stanislaw Ulam computational biology address entitled "Sequence Comparison to Graph Comparison--A New Generation of Algorithms for Network Analysis of Interacting Molecules." Nobel laureate Walter Gilbert of Harvard University will give the meeting’s distinguished biology lecture, "Introns and Modules in Ancient Conserved Genes," and Leroy Hood, director of the new Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, will give the distinguished new technologies lecture, "Computing Life and Global Technologies."

Other keynote speakers during the four-day event are Eric Davidson of the California Institute of Technology; Takashi Gojobori of Japan’s National Institute of Genetics; Hans Lehrach of the Max Planck Institute in Berlin; Yusuke Nakamura of the University of Tokyo; and Svante Paabo of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany.

Of the 36 paper presentations, Shamir said several "develop ingenious new computational ways to analyze gene-expression data and demonstrate capability to classify disease subtypes." Shamir noted the tremendous potential for clinical applications of such technologies.

Other papers describe new computational analyses for gene networks. Shamir said that novel technologies allow for the first time simultaneous monitoring of the levels of many or all genes in a cell. "The dream is that, using this data, we shall be able to computationally determine the wiring of the cell--regulatory pathways, relations among genes, interactions among genes and proteins--and eventually understand the whole cell as a dynamic system."

Shamir also noted that the RECOMB community includes pioneers in gene network technology development, and that several talks will address the topic, which, he predicted, "will be around for a long time."

The meeting is sponsored by ACM-SIGACT with support from Agilent Technologies, Compugen, IBM, the International Society for Computational Biology, SmithKline Beecham, the US Department of Energy, and the US National Science Foundation.

--Adrienne Burke

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