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HUPO Establishes Paid Secretariat in Montreal; HUPO Canada to Launch Soon

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The Human Proteome Organization has established a paid, five-person secretariat based in Montreal to administer and raise money for the organization, ProteoMonitor has learned. The creation of the group will cost Montreal International, the city's economic development arm, $62,500 over five years for hosting the headquarters in the city.

The secretariat will also aim to help HUPO achieve its stated goals of unifying the proteomics community, supporting proteomics projects, and establishing training programs for proteomics.

"Our role is to serve as a catalyst to promote the whole proteomics community," said Paul Stinson, the director general of HUPO and a member of the secretariat. "We want to serve as a catalyst for international funding. One of our challenges is to get some project funded by the European Union that will untie the nodes in the different European HUPO centers." He spoke with ProteoMonitor at the fifth international conference of the Canadian Proteomics Initiative, held in Toronto last week.

Separately, ProteoMonitor has learned that Canadian members of HUPO are in the process of establishing HUPO Canada, a national arm of HUPO to be headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta.

Members of HUPO international's secretariat, which was established April 1, are largely funded by the organization itself. In addition, Montreal International, the economic development arm of the city of Montreal, has agreed to pay each member of the secretariat $2,500 every year for five years as an incentive for establishing the HUPO headquarters in Montreal.

"Except for this, all the various proteomics organizations don't have secretariats — they're all doing it voluntarily," said Stinson. "We're the only five people paid to do this."

Stinson was hired to his position in October by HUPO president John Bergeron, shortly before the third-annual international HUPO congress in Beijing.

Other members of the secretariat include Wehbeh Barghachie, the congress director and project manager; Elizabeth Cooper, the communications and industry liaison manager; Sandrine Palcy, the training coordinator; and Sylvie Ouellette, the membership and administration coordinator.

All members of the new HUPO secretariat are Canadian, except for Palcy, who is French.

Stinson said that the new HUPO secretariat expects to host a formal inauguration of the executive council in Montreal within the next few months.

Stinson carried a thick book in his briefcase that detailed HUPO's strategic business plan. The plan outlined some of the other short-term goals of the secretariat. For example, by June 1, the secretariat aims to initiate a series of industry-academic symposia addressing the "proteomics topics of the day;" by July 1, the group aims to secure a strategic partnership with a conference organizer, such as CHI; by Oct. 15, the group aims to develop a "young professionals" exchange program that will enable graduate and post-graduate students, as well as industry scientists under 35 years old, to work abroad; and on Dec. 15, the group plans to hold its annual planning and evaluation roundtable.

According to the HUPO business plan, about 25 percent of HUPO's total revenues for 2005 will be generated by membership fees. The fees will vary from $50 for students to $2,000 for industry/commercial organizations with fewer than 50 people, and $10,000 for industry/commercial organizations with more than 500 people.

One goal that has already been accomplished by the new secretariat is a meeting of the chairs of all seven of the HUPO scientific projects, which took place in early April in Montreal. During the two-day meeting, the heads of each scientific project came up with five or six action items to be accomplished before the 4th international HUPO congress, which is scheduled to take place Aug. 28-Sept. 1 in Munich.

Another goal that may soon be accomplished is the revamping of the HUPO website. The website is currently being maintained by a group in Korea, but its management will soon be shifted over to the UK-based bioinformatics company Nonlinear Dynamics, which has agreed to create HUPO's international's website for free, according to Stinson.

Nonlinear Dynamics is also expected to create websites for national and pan-European arms of HUPO so that all HUPO websites will have a similar look, Stinson said.

O, HUPO Canada

In addition, members of HUPO are in the process of establishing HUPO Canada, a national arm of HUPO to be headquartered in Edmonton. A HUPO Canada website is expected to launch within the next few weeks, said Joel Weiner, the voluntary chair of the organization, who is also the chair of the Canadian Institutes for Health Research's Institute of Genetics. The website will include the locations of all the various proteomics centers within Canada and forums for discussion groups on proteomics.

Stinson's Stints

Before joining HUPO's secretariat, Paul Stinson, the director general of HUPO, was the executive director of BC Biotech, a non-profit industry association dedicated to the development of a strong commercial biotechnology industry in British Columbia, for four years.

Prior to that, he spent nine years in international sales and marketing management positions within the pharmaceutical industry. He worked with Ciba-Geigy in Switzerland, Canada, and Zimbabwe, and with Boehringer-Mannheim in India. He was also the president of CAPRA International, a consulting firm that promotes partnerships between Canada and Asia, and a training consultant for GlaxoSmithkline, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Novartis.

"Our goal is to bring the Canadian proteomics community together — to create a forum to know who else is doing proteomics, and a venue for getting together to talk and to collaborate," said Weiner. "We will also do a lot of lobbying and advocacy for funding. We will support any of the proteomics projects, including the regulome project, the blood project, and the liver project."

Weiner said he intends to officially launch HUPO Canada at next year's CPI conference, scheduled for May 12-13 in Edmonton. With the original sponsor and organizer of CPI — the Protein Engineering Network of Centres of Excellence — coming to a mandated end (see PENCE story), Weiner said he envisions HUPO Canada being one of a number of sponsors of the CPI coference in future years.

The HUPO Canada website will be accessible at www.hupocanada.org, or www.hupocanada.ca, he said.

There will be no membership fee for HUPO Canada, Weiner said, and leadership positions in the organization will be taken on on a voluntary basis.

— Tien Shun Lee ([email protected])

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