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Who s Who Of Bioinformatics Gather To Share Computational Biology Breakthroughs

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LYON, France--Workshops are expected to be crowded to capacity as more than 325 computational biologists gather here for the Third Annual International Conference on Computational Molecular Biology, April 11-14. According to conference cochair Sorin Istrail, of Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, NM, the meeting has attracted registrants from around the world and from across industry, academia, and government. He estimated that up to 30 percent of attendees have been drawn from biopharmaceutical companies.

Istrail said a roundtable discussion on the meeting's first night will be "almost a who's who of bioinformatics." Leading bioinformaticists from several pharmaceutical companies and from the

US National Institutes of Health, the US Department of Energy, the US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and the US National Science Foundation will discuss emerging issues in computational biology, he said.

While attendance by nonacademic computational biologists has increased at the meeting over the years, developing an agenda to attract industry has not necessarily been a goal, Istrail said. "Basically getting quality papers and talks is the main driving force," he explained, adding, "The focus is on selecting novel methods."

With a competitive selection process in which a 29-person committee chose 39 papers from 149 submissions, Istrail claimed every paper presented at the meeting promises to be "a breakthrough." Topics receiving the most attention this year include "gene expression, clustering, gene networks, a variety of new kinds of technology-driven computer science, and mathematics," he added.

Session topics include gene expression, sequencing, protein structure, genomic rearrangements, trees, statistics, mapping, threading, sequence alignment, drug design, molecular structure, and gene networks.

Plenary lecturers during the four-day meeting include: Peer Bork of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory in Heidelberg, Germany, speaking on "Comparing Genes and Genomes"; Cyrus Chothia of the University of Cambridge, on "Genome Sequences and Protein Structure"; Daniel Cohen of Genset in Paris, on "Whole-Genome Association Studies in Humans"; John Moult of the University of Maryland, on "The Past, Present, and Future of Protein Structure Prediction"; Gene Myers of Celera Genomics, on "Progress toward the Whole-Genome Shotgun Sequencing of Drosophila"; Piotr Slonimski of the Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique on "Comparison of Complete Genomes: Organization and Evolution"; Ed Southern of the University of Oxford, on "Large DNA Microarrays--the How and the Why"; Peter Willett of the University of Sheffield, on "Computational Analysis of Molecular Diversity for Drug Discovery"; and, John Wooley of the US Department of Energy, on "Trends in Computational Biology."

Sponsors of the meeting, which was organized by the French National Institute for Research in Computer Science and Control, include ACM-SIGACT, Sloan Foundation, the US Department of Energy, the International Society for Computational Biology, IBM, the US National Science Foundation, SmithKline Beecham, and several French organizations including: Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique, Eurogentec-Bel, Mairie de Lyon, Conseil Régional Rhone-Alpes, and Conseil Général du Rhone.

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