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September 2001
Vol. 4, No. 9, p 71.
on the calendar
No battle at BIO
Protesters were more backdrop than bane at the 2001 meeting in San Diego.

The annual Biotechnology Industry Organization (BIO) meeting is one of the most important gatherings in commercial biotechnology. Scientific presenters, industrial exhibitors, venture capitalists, and experts in law and government convene yearly to assess the state of the biotechnology world and to establish new partnerships, programs, and directions for the future. BIO represents nearly 1000 biotechnology companies, universities, and state biotech centers encompassing all 50 states and 33 other nations.

BIO 2001 was held at the San Diego Convention Center June 24–27. More than 12,000 attendees were faced with a complex menu of three days of overlapping and/or complementary business and science events including more than 800 speakers.

And on top of all that, where else could one have breakfast with Prince Andrew and lunch with Naomi Judd; see Francis S. Collins and J. Craig Venter share the 2001 Biotechnology Heritage Award for their Human Genome Project achievements; have Alan Hobson, a mountain climber and leukemia survivor (thanks to stem cell treatment), sign a copy of his book for you; listen to supply-side economist Art Laffer; and witness the interaction between peaceful protesters and bored police, all while enjoying the exhilarating blue skies and balmy weather of coastal California.

At the plenary breakfast, a biotechnology “poster child” was introduced—a 10-year-old noncelebrity hemophiliac enjoying successful maintenance treatment using recombinant proteins. This new feature of the BIO meetings is perhaps intended to provide a public showcase for corporate biotechnology success stories.

The exhibition hall hosted more than 750 exhibitors from industry and government and ran the gamut from small companies to multinational giants.

A unique facet of BIO meetings remains the emphasis on establishing partnerships between investors and corporations. An Investor Forum was specifically held to bring together capital-hungry biotechnology companies and investors willing to partner with them.

The scientific presentations at BIO tended, as was usual for this meeting, to be overviews of current technologies, focusing on large-scale problems and issues. When the session topic focused on narrower, specific technologies or areas of interest, expert presenters from industry, academia, and government discussed the latest movement in a scientific field. The sessions were well attended and often standing room only (except for the typical seats left vacant up front), particularly for the most politically charged, celebrity-enhanced, or scientifically innovative presentations.

Special sessions such as “Golden Rice—Public/Private Cooperation to Battle Malnutrition” and “Cloning and Stem Cells: New Controversies” were held as well as numerous service-related technical presentations that highlighted the concept of interactions and cooperation. Sessions on the protection and identification of intellectual property were a key component of the business-oriented focus of the show, as was a focus on finding ways to increase industrial and governmental cooperation, not conflict.

BIO 2001 can still be “visited” on the Internet (www.bio2001.org). For those who did not attend, a complete list of tape-recorded meeting sessions can be found at the Web site.

A Primer in Non-Clinical Safety Assessment of New Pharmaceuticals. Oct. 1–4, Arlington, VA (703-276-0178; fax 703-276-0069).

MedDRA: A Practical Approach to Implementation. Oct. 1–2, Baltimore, MD (215-628-2288; fax 215-641-1229; dia@diahome.org).


Computer Validation: Effective Practices for Pharmaceutical and Biotech Professionals. Nov. 1–2, Costa Mesa, CA (800-462-0876; fax 608-263-3160).

ISPPP-2001: 21st International Symposium on the Separation of Proteins, Peptides, and Polynucleotides. Nov. 11–14, Orlando, FL (301-898-3772; fax 301-898-5596; janetbarr@aol.com; www.isppp.org).

Mark S. Lesney is a senior editor of Modern Drug Discovery. Send your comments or questions regarding this article to mdd@acs.org or the Editorial Office by fax at 202-776-8166 or by post at 1155 16th Street, NW; Washington, DC 20036.

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