March 14, 2006 | Next month, Bio•IT World hosts its fifth annual conference in Boston (April 3-5). Here are a few of the show’s many highlights. Visit www.lifesciencesexpo.com for full agenda and registration details.
Decoding the Genome
deCODE Genetics founder and CEO Kari Stefansson headlines day two of this year’s conference. For years, Iceland’s premier biotech company was the subject of much controversy over its deal with the Icelandic parliament to create a medical database for the entire country. But in recent years, deCODE has tapped Iceland’s unparalleled genealogical and medical data, mapping dozens of genes that predispose to diabetes, heart disease, stroke, osteoporosis, and schizophrenia. deCODE has made swift progress in identifying drug candidates and pushing several into the clinic, sometimes within just a few years. Stefansson will discuss the premium deCODE places on genotyping, databases, and informatics strategies, in emerging from a genomics pioneer to a mature biopharmaceutical company.
Keynote | April 4 | 8:30 a.m.
The Six-Figure Sequence
We may still have to wait a few years before the “$1,000 genome,” but the $100,000 genome appears to be a reality. New commercial instruments from 454 and Solexa promise to achieve that benchmark using new single-molecule sequencing technologies — the most significant changes to DNA sequencing chemistry in three decades. The CEOs of both companies, Jonathan Rothberg and John West, respectively, will be joined by Visigen founder Susan Hardin and Harvard Medical School’s George Church, who will discuss the Personal Genome Project.
Genomic Technology | April 3 | 1:30 p.m.
Co-organized by Becky Kush (CDISC) and Ken Getz (Tufts CSDD), the e-Clinical Trials track kicks off with a look at the future of e-clinical research, featuring talks from Paul Lammers (CMO, Serono), Uwe Trinks (Sentrx), and analyst David Hardison (SAIC). Over the course of six sessions, speakers and panelists will discuss e-clinical market, pharmacovigilance and standards, clinical trial registration, electronic data capture and health records, and much more.
E-Clinical Trials | April 3 | 10:30 a.m.
Life Sciences and the Web
As a follow up to last year’s keynote from World Wide Web inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee, there is a session devoted to advances in the Semantic Web. The opening speaker, Eric Neumann (see Masters of the Semantic Web, Oct. 2005 Bio•IT World, p. 28), will provide news on the activities of the World Wide Web consortium (W3C), along with fellow W3C members Eric Miller and Partners HealthCare’s Tonya Hongsermeier. They will be joined by Susie Stephens (Oracle), Ken Baclawski (Northeastern University), and Matt Shanahan (Teranode).
IT/Informatics Solutions | April 4 | 2 p.m.
The Singularity Is Here
“Reprogramming Biology” is the title of noted inventor Ray Kurzweil’s opening keynote address. Kurzweil will expound upon themes in his latest book, The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology, in which he predicts the next few decades will see the merging of human biology with the staggering achievements of “GNR” — genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics — to create a species of extraordinarily high intelligence, comprehension, and memory. Kurzweil will be introduced by IDG founder and chairman Pat McGovern.
Keynote | April 3 | 3:30 p.m.
Benjamin Franklin Award
On April 5, the Bioinformatics Organization (Bioinformatics.Org) presents the 2006 Benjamin Franklin Award to Michael Ashburner, fruit fly geneticist from the University of Cambridge, United Kingdom. Ashburner is honored for his fundamental contributions to many open-access bioinformatics projects, including FlyBase, the GASP project, and the Gene Ontology project, as well as his instrumental role in the establishment of the European Bioinformatics Institute. Ashburner joins Ewan Birney (2005), Lincoln Stein (2004), James Kent (2003), and Michael Eisen (2002) as winners of the award.
Franklin Award | April 5 | 10 a.m.
The IDG Venture Forum returns to explore the key economic and technology issues facing the biopharma industry. The opening session features a formidable trio of industry analysts offering their takes on the current plight of biopharma companies and the vendors they deal with. Bryan Pearce (Ernst & Young), Scott Lundstrom (Health Industry Insights), and Martin Leach (Booz Allen Hamilton) will discuss the financial outlook for the pharma and life sciences industry, exploring new technologies that are driving innovation, and new models for conducting research, drug development, and clinical trials.
Venture Forum | April 4 | 11 a.m.
Mining the Genome
Of the many talks that will present novel ways to analyze and share the vast trove of data spawned by the Human Genome Project, one in particular shows how genomewide data analysis impacts society in even more profound ways. From the study of human population history and geography (Kris Lichter, IBM) to the identification of human remains in the face of natural and manmade catastrophes (Howard Cash, Gene Codes); from the next generation of protein networks (Marc Vidal, Harvard Medical School) to an analysis of the current state of patenting of the human genome (Fiona Murray, MIT).
Genomic Technology | April 4 | 2 p.m.
Path to Personalized Care
Allen Roses, senior vice president for GlaxoSmithKline, is arguably the preeminent pharmaceutical industry authority on the technology of pharmacogenomics and the future of personalized medicine. During his distinguished career on the faculty of Duke University, Roses’ group transformed the study of Alzheimer’s disease. He is now pioneering the use of high-throughput genotyping to identify new complex disease susceptibility genes, stratify patient populations, and expedite drug development and clinical trials.
Keynote | April 5 | 8:30 a.m.
This timely workshop explores the Web’s next wave and what it means for science, with discussion and demonstrations of blogs, wikis, social bookmarking services, mashups, and more. These advances bring scientists closer to fulfilling the Web’s potential as a global communication medium. Speakers will include members of Nature Publishing Group, backers of the recently launched Connotea reference management service, and O’Reilly.
Workshop | April 3 | 10:30 a.m.
Discovery Home and Away
This session should have what is known as “crossover” appeal. A trio of superb speakers offers their vision of new strategies and philosophies to improve the efficiency and safety of drug discovery. Lex van der Ploeg (Merck) discusses Merck’s new Boston facility’s approach to target discovery, with a premium on biomarkers and imaging. Pfizer’s Andrew Hopkins returns to expand on his vision of the druggable genome. And Bridge Pharmaceuticals CEO Glenn Rice discusses “The China Option” — low-cost, high-quality drug development outsourcing in Asia.
Genomic Technology | April 4 | 4 p.m.