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Archive for the ‘Conference’ Category

So I originally planned on writing a quick post promoting RECOMB2011, a conference focusing on computational molecular biology occurring later this month in Vancouver, BC.  I sent the conference organizers an email asking if they had any stem cell related abstracts being presented, explaining that I wrote for a large stem cell organization on stem cell related topics and events.  I also mentioned that I was a programmer/developer who was interested in computational biology.

No response.

I’m a little miffed to say the least.  I included a link to the Stem Cell Network and everything!  If they were not interested or they did not have stem cell topics as part of their conference, a simple “No thanks” would have been sufficient.

Fail.  No link for you!

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From Dec 4-7, hematologists, scientists and trainees from around the world gathered in sunny Orlando Florida to discuss the latest in blood diseases and research. Over these three days, the Orange County Convention Centre was host to two poster sessions, presentations from clinical and academic leaders, and an impressive array of exhibitors.

I arrived late December 2 nd and spent the 3 rd shopping and exploring. Orlando is an odd place, with very little “natural” about it. Manicured lawns and carefully arrayed palm trees are the norm. Hotels and restaurants tempt the tourist crowds with ponds of koi, the fish sweltering in the heat and cooled down with influxes of cold water. It is a car city, with stores, hotels, and amenities spread far apart and divided by 6+ lanes of traffic. But it was bright, sunny and warm, and for that, I tried to overlook the funny taste of the water and the supreme lack of fresh food.

Things got going on Saturday with some sessions and breakfast talks already well on their way from as early as 7am. Exhibits opened at 10am sharp. Big Pharma was high in attendance, with appearances from Pfizer, Roche, Johnson and Johnson, and Genentech, to name only a few. Each company tried to out-do each other with high end “hospitality bars” which served gourmet snacks and coffee. Current clinical trials in the areas of leukemia/ myeloma diseases were highly touted, as well as advances in stem cell transplant techniques.

Over the next two days, there were scientific sessions and special lectures around the clock –far too many to attend, much less write about. There was a clear focus on clinical treatments and outcomes, not surprising when ASH caters primarily to clinicians. There were also a surprising number of studies on the usages of cord blood -a growing area for business and medicine. One special lecture of note was the Ham Wasserman lecture on stem cell mobility and homing. I will be writing about this topic in an upcoming Stem Cell Network blog! A few other lectures were interesting, mostly relating to genetic aspects of blood diseases, and I may touch on these topics in later posts.

I was a little disappointed in the poster sessions. Many posters did not have people available to answer questions, which sort of defeated the purpose of having a dedicated poster session. The food was also set up terribly, forcing people to line up even if they just wanted a bit of cheese and bread to nibble with their drink. On Sunday, I had the privilege of attending the President’s Reception, held in the Peabody Hotel. The Peabody is probably best described as a whole hearted attempt at grandiose elegance. I nearly had a heart attack when I entered the reception and saw that most people were seated –I went to the event knowing a grand total of ONE person. It didn’t help when the bartender asked me for ID. But, I eventually got connected with people, had some amazing food (though I didn’t eat as much as I would have liked, definitely the best food I had in Orlando!), and the open bar didn’t hurt either.

Post reception, I had drinks at Rocks, the hotel bar, where I learned that the hotel maintains a cache of special ducks which it parades out front once per day. Huh. Monday, I’ll be honest –I did very little. I was too lazy to get lunch so I grabbed food at the convention centre which subsequently made me violently ill. I have never been so happy to pack up and get to the airport!

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Only a week and a bit  before Florida!  AHHHHHH! I’m super excited to meet with people and get some writing in.

(Also more than a little excited about the Harry Potter theme park! *blush*)

So if anyone’s going to ASH, shoot me a message or a tweet!

Links that caught my eye this past week:

  1. This has been languishing in my “to do” list for a while – Check out this excellent imaging job of two cancer cells multiplying, reported on Gizmodo.  Amazing colour on that shot.
  2. National Geographic writes about the origin of whales – again, amazing photos.  Thanks to the Beaty Biodiversity Museum’s Facebook page for sharing that!
  3. Serious Monkey Business discusses a newly discovered population of yellow-tailed woolly monkeys.  For the charismatic animal lovers out there, these guys are pretty cute and, perhaps unsurprisingly, critically endangered.
  4. Nature News reports that South Korea is launching an inquiry following the deaths of two Koreans from “stem cell treatments” offered by questionable clinics.  While stem cell treatments are not legal in South Korea, a Korean-based firm has been formulating and marketing the stem cells, then sending them to satellite clinics located in other countries.  Shady business…

Coming up in the near future: In recognition of OceanWise month, I have one blog upcoming on bluefin tuna.  The rodent anesthesia blog is in-progress and I have a blog on wild tobacco that has been languishing and will hopefully be finished post-haste.

I also found a good reference for my post on laboratory rodent euthanasia.  From the Laboratory Animal Limited website, under Education and Training, you can find a huge repository of reviews and scholarly papers on the usage laboratory animals.  In particular, take a peek at the Euthanasia tab >  Newcastle consensus meeting on carbon dioxide euthanasia of laboratory animals PDF.  There wasn’t a direct link available, sorry! But this PDF article is full of really good data on the good and the bad of CO2 euthanasia.

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Looks like I’ll be attending the 52nd Annual Meeting and Exposition of the American Society of Hematology.  This year’s event is being held in Orlando, Florida at the Orange County Convention Centre, December 4-7.  I’ll be attending not as a researcher or programmer, but as a blogger!

As always, there promises to be some interesting discussions.  I’m looking forward to this year’s Ham-Wasserman Lecture, named in honour of the late Thomas Hale Ham, MD and the late Louis R. Wasserman, MD.  The Ham-Wasserman Lecture is given by a individual from outside the United States who has contributed to the field of hematology.  This year’s lecture will be given by Tsvee Lapidot, PhD, from The Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel.  Dr. Lapidot will be presenting a talk entitled, “The Brain-Bone-Blood Triad: Traffic Lights of Stem Cell Homing and Mobilization”.

And of course, whats a conference without receptions?  ASH has three official receptions – a Welcome Reception on Saturday night with finger foods and drinks, and two Poster Hall Receptions on the Sunday and Monday nights, respectively.  If you’re attending, please stop by and say hi!

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