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TIGR s First Computational Genomics Conference Exceeds Expectations

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HERNDON, Va.--Organizers of the First Annual Conference on Computational Genomics, held here November 1-4, pronounced themselves "absolutely pleased" with the event, which exceeded expectations, and said it will "definitely" continue next year. "We would have been happy with 200 attendees and we got 275," noted Anthony Kerlavage, director of the Department of Bioinformatics for The Institute of Genomic Research (TIGR) and a conference cochair, along with David Searls, vice-president and director of bioinformatics for SmithKline Beecham. TIGR's Science Education Founda tion sponsored the conference.

"The marriage between biology and computing was the real key to success," Kerlavage observed. Among the highlights he noted was that "it was especially neat how it covered everything from the very beginning of the process to simulating a cell in the computer. Then everything in between--protein structure determination and the impact that will have." He singled out a presentation by Masaru Tomita of Keio University, on "E-CELL: Software Environment for Whole-Cell Simulation," as one example of the type of cutting-edge topics presented at the meeting.

The conference was bookended by two vendor-sponsored seminars. On November 1, Silicon Graphics hosted a Bioinformatics Workshop that included an emphasis on the contributions of visualization technologies. Then on November 4, bioinformatics software company NetGenics offered a seminar on CORBA and Java for Bioinformatics that the organizers described as an introduction to the roles those technologies can play in facilitating the integration and databasing of information. The seminar derived from a three-day event that NetGenics usually offers on a paid basis, according to a spokeswoman.

Attendees were also pleased with the event, telling BioInform they liked its narrow focus on the computational aspects of genomics and the high quality of speakers and the science they discussed. Among the many marquee speakers were Steven Henikoff of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, discussing "Blocks-Based Methods for Detecting Homology and Inferring Function"; Ed Uberbacher of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory, discussing "Large-Scale Framework for Analysis and Annotation of Genomic Sequences"; Chris Sander of the European Bioinformatics Institute, discussing "Mapping the Protein Universe"; Michael Levitt of Stanford University, discussing "Large-Scale Modeling of Structure from Sequence"; Amos Bairoch of the University of Geneva discussing "Proteome Databases, the New Frontier"; and Phil Green of the University of Washington, discussing "Genome Sequence Assembly."

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