Last October we tried something a little different: a free, one-day, methods-themed virtual conference with a diverse range of speakers. “The Genome and Beyond” took place October 5, 2011 and featured 11 talks divided into four sessions throughout the day. Alongside the session talks, we made every effort to recreate online the physical conference experience by adding a virtual poster hall for researchers to present their latest methods and techniques, a virtual exhibit hall with downloadable information/data sheets as well as the opportunity to interact in real time with suppliers to answer questions, and a networking area for those looking toward the next step in their career path. During the long months of planning leading up to the event, we were not sure how everything would come together. But the final outcome exceeded even our best expectations.
In the end, more than 3,700 scientists registered for “The Genome and Beyond,” with attendees on the day of the live event spending over three hours on average taking in the scientific sessions and roaming the virtual environment. And following the live event, an additional 2,000 visited the archived collection of on-demand videos to catch talks they might have missed. Overall, I think it is safe to say our first BioTechniques virtual symposium was a success.
So, why stop a good thing? Starting this month you can register for the 2012 BioTechniques Virtual Symposium which we are tentatively calling “The Cell Landscape: From Genotype to Phenotype.” “This year's event will take place October 3, 2012, and will include four sessions with 12 speakers discussing the latest methods aimed at teasing apart the inner workings of the cell. Our first session will focus on novel approaches and techniques used to isolate and sort cells from mixed populations. From there, the second and third sessions will highlight approaches being used to examine the impact of nucleic acids and proteins on cell phenotype. Our final session of the day will bring everything together by exploring how the methods described throughout the symposium are impacting research in areas such as cancer biology, metagenomics, and translational medicine.
While this year's Virtual Symposium will follow the same structure and format as last year (12 speakers divided into four key sessions), we are adding several new elements in 2012 to enhance the educational experience for our attendees. One of the most noticeable additions this year will be a live workshop and roundtable discussion that will take place between the morning and afternoon sessions. The focus of this year's workshop will be recent advances in single-cell sequencing methods and applications. A panel of speakers will discuss their work in single-cell sequencing through the use of case studies, and then attendees will have the opportunity to engage in a question and answer discussion with the panelists.
Another new element slated for this year's Virtual Symposium is the addition of a career fair area. We realize that when a scientist is looking for a position, it can be difficult to find locations where interesting job leads are posted. For employers, finding a place to locate strong candidates that possess the right skills is critical. It is our hope that by adding a career fair within this year's event, we can provide a venue to start the conversation between job seekers and employers.
While organizing “The Cell Landscape: From Genotype to Phenotype” will no doubt prove to be as much work as “The Genome and Beyond” was last year, I strongly suspect that it will be just as rewarding in the end for everyone involved. I look forward to seeing you at the event this year, and welcome any suggestions, comments, or questions that you might have in the months leading up to Virtual Symposium 2012. Please share your thoughts with us by posting at our Molecular Biology Forums under “To the Editor” (http://molecularbiology.forums.biotechniques.com) or sending an email directly to the editors ([email protected]).