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PREVIEW: ALA brings even more new offerings to LabAutomation2010
PALM SPRINGS, Calif.—Although the Association for Laboratory Automation (ALA) feels justifiably proud of its scientific program over the years, ALA Executive Director Greg Dummer and LabAutomation2010 Program Chair Robyn Rourick both note that "good enough" isn't the target at which they are aiming any year—and certainly not in 2010.
Dummer notes that every year, "it's really about making sure our curriculum is outstanding. We want to develop content that is relevant and important for our audience. So one tactic we employ is to have ambassadors around the world, recruiting speakers. This year, for LabAutomation2010, we also developed strategic partnerships with a number of sister organizations to roll out marketplace briefings, such as presenting the 2009 North American Laboratory Purchasing Trends Report, courtesy of the Laboratory Products Association."
Among the other new offerings of note are a pair of new short courses, adds Rourick, a pharmaceutical consultant in San Diego who has been involved in LabAutomation planning for the past couple years and served as associate program chair for the 2009 event. There are still "the regulars, " such as Liquid Handling Boot Camp—A Beginner's Hands-On Introduction to Lab Automation; Biostatistics and Exploratory Data Analysis; Molecular Diagnostic Automation; Introduction to Laboratory Automation; and others, she notes, all of them important and valuable. But Rourick also points with pride to the newcomers: Automated Liquid Handling in Accredited or Forensic Environments and XML for the Laboratory.
Speaking to the first new offering, Rourick says, "We've been on a real mission for the past five years or so to bring in cross-functional areas and draw in new kinds of attendees."
And speaking to the other, she adds, "computer-based programming is always important these days, and
Rourick notes that in general, the LabAutomation show has been able to boast that it has a "strong and sound" scientific program, but also notes that ALA has been diligent over the years to not only commit to multiple tracks— realizing that lab automation involves many different industries and kinds of people—but also to add new tracks along the way.
Familiar to past attendees will be the four tracks of Detection and Separation; Micro- and
Nanotechnologies; High-Throughput Technologies; and Informatics. Added to the mix for 2010 is Evolving Applications of Laboratory Automation, in particular featuring emphasis on Agriculture and Food for LabAutomation2010.
"With this fifth track, we want to look at what is up-and-coming or evolving in lab automation, so that each year, people can see the increasing connectivity of so many areas of industry with lab automation, and within the area of lab automation itself," Rourick explains. "The thinking is that anyone should be able to walk into that track and take something away from it that is valuable, even if they aren't as deeply embedded in the industry being covered as other people in attendance."
Among the special educational sessions, there are several topics in addition to the Laboratory Products Association's purchasing report, among them Market Overview: India's Emerging Pharmaceutical Market; Late Night With LRIG: Rapid-Fire Innovation Session; The MF3 Center: Pioneering Commercialization from Academia to Market; and The SiLA Consortium for Standardization in Laboratory Automation.
That last offering, Rourick notes, may be of special interest to many attendees, as standardization is an issue that has been very important to the lab automation industry over the last decade or so.
"The familiarity component is important with LabAutomation, because it's what allows people to be at ease and comfortable when they attend. That is important to encouraging people to re-attend," Rourick says. "But another major part of the currency of the event is found in the special sessions that look at important and evolving issues like micofluidics and standardization, as well as cutting-edge issues. We want people to be able to come away with something from the show no matter what level they are at in whatever industry they serve, and we want them to make real connections each day as they learn from speakers and from each other in conversations about their businesses and their work. "
"We consistently left with an up-to-date understanding of where the industry is going, in terms of technology and solutions for lab automation problems, especially in the drug development and drug discovery spaces," says Clifford Hoyt, chief technology officer for Cambridge Research & Instrumentation (CRi) , which develops and markets optical imaging systems to advance biomedical research and molecular-based drug and diagnostic development. "We exhibited in the past at LabAutomation, and we found the meeting to be an extraordinary concentration of thought leaders in this space."
Mixing business and learning
As important as the "education" and "experience" aspects of LabAutomation show planning are, and as well as the scientific program, special sessions and social events handle those areas, there is a third "E" that needs to be addressed each year—and assessed again after the conclusion of each conference.
"On the exhibition side of the business, were always listening to our exhibitors," notes Dummer. "Our objective is to create a productive exhibit floor experience for the attendees and exhibitors alike. But as you know, ultimately, delivering solid sales leads is the key."
This year, he says, exhibitors had told the Chicago-based ALA that they wanted to see the rollout of a marketplace that takes the event beyond the conference to a 365-day experience.
"So, we're launching an online product directory like none other," Dummer says. "We're calling it The Market Place for Laboratory Automation, and one of the things that make it different than other online product directories is that it will be connected to our wiki, LabAutopedia."
LabAutopedia is already getting thousands of visitors every month, he notes, and The Market Place will be the retail side to ALA's wiki, linking educational content with the latest products and services.
"Bringing The Market Place into play is a nice amenity for our exhibitors," Dummer says. "They get free entrance in this inaugural year. If you're not an exhibitor, you can still get in for a premium. We'll be working on more long-term pricing strategies as we go forward."
ALA names $10,000 Innovation Award finalists for LabAutomation2010
ALA announced Dec. 9 the top candidates for its $10,000 Innovation Award at LabAutomation2010, as follows:
Jason Haaheim, NanoInk—Dip Pen Nanolithography for Cell-Signaling: Towards Automated Nanolithography
Ali Khademhosseini, Ph.D., Harvard- Massachusetts Institute of Technology—Microengineered Hydrogels for Tissue Engineering and Stem Cell Bioengineering
Abe Lee, Ph.D., University of California, Irvine—Microfluidic Acoustically-Activated Air-Liquid Cavities for On-Chip Integration of Sample Preparation and Sample Detection
Darren Link, Ph.D., RainDance Technologies —Multiplexing Assays with Droplet Libraries
Richard Mathies, Ph.D., University of California, Berkeley—Integrated Microfluidic Systems for High-Performance Biochemical and Genetic Analysis
Zheng Ouyang, Ph.D., Purdue University—Development of Miniature Mass Spectrometry Analysis Systems
Juan Santiago, Stanford University—Rapid Chemical Detection and Identification with a Hand Held Device
Gary Siuzdak, Ph.D., The Scripps Research Institute—Tissue Imaging with Nanostructure Initiator Mass Spectrometry (NIMS)
Robin Smith, ArtusLabs Inc.—A New Paradigm for Results and Analytics, the Leap from Data Storage to Knowledge
Pak Kin Wong, Ph.D., University of Arizona—A 5-in-1 Bioprocessor for Electrokinetic Sample Preparation and Electrochemical Detection
The ALA Innovation Award recognizes LabAutomation2010 podium presenters who put forth work that demonstrates outstanding innovation and contributes to the exploration of automation technologies in the laboratory.
"The ALA Innovation Award continues to recognize the best and brightest podium presentation at the LabAutomation Conference and Exhibition," says Dr. Jörg Kutter, who chairs the ALA Innovation Award Panel of Judges. "The quality of submissions for this year's award signifies that LabAutomation continues to serve as the platform for presenting innovation in research and technologies from across the field of laboratory automation."
The award winner will be announced Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 12:45 p.m. during the closing plenary session of the show featuring Bruce Sterling, American science fiction novelist and former Twilight Zone writer and actor.
ALA chooses eight start-up companies from around the world for fourth annual program
Eight elite start-up companies from around the world will be features for the fourth annual Innovation AveNEW program to be offered by ALA at LabAutomation2010.
Innovation AveNEW's mission is to offer start-up, entrepreneurial companies operating within the laboratory automation and technology field a venue for positive, collaborative interaction and exposure for their product concept or service offering, notes Dummer. Innovation AveNEW will be presented in a specially designated area on the LabAutomation2010 exhibit floor, he adds.
The eight companies to be featured at LabAutomation2010 are BSSN Software of Mainz, Germany; CellASIC of San Leandro, Calif.; Curiox Biosystems of Singapore; Cynora GmbH of Leopoldshafen, Germany; Delta Robotics of Berne, Switzerland; Dotmatics Ltd., of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom; Live Cell Assays of Martinez, Calif.; and NanoEngineering Corp. of West Palm Beach, Fla.
"We're proud to continue to do our Innovation AveNEW program, which gives a leg-up to eight promising startups each year," Dummer says. "It's a really fun program, and this year the judging panel has selected start-up companies from Europe, Asia and the United States. "
The Innovation AveNEW program serves to afford emerging, start-up companies the opportunity to actively engage and participate in a world-class event by offering the participants free exhibit space and travel. The program helps participants to grow and scale their business as well as directly connects them more than 4,000 purchasing influencers and decision-makers from more than 40 countries. Only a select few start-up companies are chosen for this program each year.
Once again this year, two leading non-profit scientific organizations—BioAlps of Switzerland and DECHEMA of Germany—have joined with ALA and have selected one start-up company each from their respective region of the world to participate.
"Innovation AveNEW has evolved into an integral part of the LabAutomation2010 exhibit floor with spots for participation becoming highly sought after by start-up companies whose innovative products are advancing the field of laboratory automation," says ALA President Erik Rubin. "Innovation AveNEW continues to be an example of ALA's commitment to blending each of its constituent audiences—academia and government, technology users and the technology provider community—and expanding our association's presence in the global marketplace and emerging industry sectors."
Last chance for posters
As noted on ALA's Web site, LabAutomation2010 posters are still being accepted, with a final deadline of Friday, Jan. 22. The ALA reminds attendees that all poster presenters must be registered as full conference, unless you are academic, government or an exhibitor. Submit your abstract online. The ALA notes that "The poster program is an effective way to communicate your research to colleagues and has become the 'presentation of choice' for many scientists who present at LabAutomation."
ALA positions for future with three new board members
In accordance with the ALA's election policy, the organization's board of directors has identified its three new board members for acclamation at LabAutomation2010.
"ALA is pleased to, once again, welcome three respected and highly qualified individuals as directors to the ALA board," says Rubin. "The final slate of three individuals, including Robyn Rourick, Craig Schulz and Nitin Sood, strengthens and diversifies the board and further solidifies it as the premier professional and scientific society for individuals working within the field of laboratory automation."
Rourick brings more than 19 years of analytical chemistry experience, and most recently, she had focused extensively in the area of drug discovery and development in the position of director of pharmaceutical sciences at Kalypsis Inc. She is currently self-employed as a pharmaceutical consultant.
Schulz currently serves as senior research scientist at Amgen, where he is the lead automation specialist for process chemistry, medicinal chemistry, clinical immunology, PKDM, protein sciences, materials management, process development and peptide synthesis.
Sood brings a wealth of business and technology expertise through his experience in senior management positions in the life-science industry. Sood currently serves as general manager of the automation solutions business at Agilent Technologies, where he is directly responsible for all aspects of business, including research and development, marketing and global operations. Prior to his current role, Sood was the general manager of Agilent's microfluidics business.
Working on LabAutomation2011
Already at work on the next LabAutomation event, the ALA recently announced the confirmation of the first speaker in its plenary line-up for LabAutomation2011, to be held Jan. 29 to Feb 2 at the Palm Springs Convention Center in Palm Springs, Calif. The speaker is Dr. Chad Mirkin of Northwestern University, director of the International Institute for Nanotechnology; the George B. Rathmann professor of chemistry; and a professor of chemical and biological engineering, biomedical engineering, materials science and engineering, and medicine. Mirkin's talk is tentatively titled, "The Polyvalent Oligonucleotide Nanoparticle Conjugate: A NewFrontier in Molecular Diagnostics, Intracellular Gene Regulation and Therapy."
Puttering around Palm Springs
Some things to do while you're in town for LabAutomation, when you aren't busy learning and networking
Although Palm Springs offers a good location for learning, with its focus on resorts making it easy for attendees of any convention or conference to stay close to the show action and not feel shut in, there are things to do in the larger community and surrounding area. So if you're staying for any extra time, or find yourself with time in between activities at LabAutomation2010, here are a few ideas:
Agua Caliente Cultural Museum
219 S Palm Canyon Dr.
Village Green Heritage Center, Palm Springs
This museum depicts the history of the Agua Caliente Indians from prehistoric times to the present, though unearthed artifacts, photographs and other media.
Big Morongo Canyon Preserve
11055 East Dr.
This preserve offers 4,500 acres of desert vegetation and over seven miles of trails to explore, and has been called "a birdwatcher's and hiker's paradise."
Cabot's Pueblo Museum
67-616 E Desert View Ave.
Desert Hot Springs
Housed in a Hopi-style structure, this museum is devoted to Native American art, and it features an authentic trading post.
Children's Discovery Museum of the Desert
1-701 Gerald Ford Dr.
With a miniature rock-climbing area, a magnetic sculpture wall, make-it-and-take-it-apart projects, a rope maze, a family center, and an area for toddlers, this attraction focuses on iInstructive, hands-on exhibits. Children must be accompanied by an adult.
Coachella Valley Preserve
29200 Thousand Palms Canyon Rd.
Various desert animals are drawn her by sparkling springs among 20,000 acres of lush greenery, with an idyllic palm oasis therein that served as the backdrop for Cecil De Mille's epic film, King of Kings.
Desert Holocaust Memorial
Palm Desert Civic Center Park
This memorial honors those who lost their lives in or endured the atrocities of the Holocaust, telling their story through plaques and seven larger-than-life bronze figures resting upon a double-tiered Star of David 20 feet across.
38500 S Palm Canyon Dr.
This home of the Cahuilla Indians is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and features oases and abundant wildlife. Remnants of Native American life include rock art, house pits and foundations, irrigation ditches, bedrock mortars, pictographs and stone houses and shelters built high atop cliff walls.
Joshua Tree National Park
74485 National Park Dr.
This 794,000-acre area is the result of two deserts, the low Colorado and the high Mojave, coming together to create what some call "a geological and floral wonderland."
Knott's Soak City Water Park Palm Springs
1500 S Gene Autry Trail
Attractions include Rip Tide Reef, with its 800,000-gallon wave pool, and Sea Snake, a 50-foot tube slide. Also featured are 13 waterslides, raft rides and a lazy river ride.
Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
47-900 Portola Ave., Palm Desert
This 1200-acre interpretive center at the foot of the Santa Rosa Mountains features mountain lions, wolves, javelina, bobcats, golden eagles and more.
Living Desert Zoo and Gardens
47-900 Portola Ave.
This 1200-acre interpretive center at the foot of the Santa Rosa Mountains features mountain lions, wolves, javelina, bobcats, golden eagles and more.
1701 S Palm Canyon Dr.
More than 3000 varieties of desert plants can be viewed here, including prickly pears, agaves, and cacti. In addition, visitors can view Native American artifacts and rock, crystal and wood formations.
Mount San Jacinto State Park
25905 Hwy 243
This high-altitude park features 54 miles of hiking trails, camping and picnic areas and guided wilderness mule rides
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
1 Tramway Rd.
This tramway transports passengers in rotating cars 2.5 miles from Valley Station in Chino Canyon to and from Mountain Station at the east edge of Long Valley, giving riders not only access to by also great views of the rugged San Jacinto mountains.
Palm Springs Air Museum
745 N Gene Autry Trail
This museum showcases several dozen World War II aircraft. Many tours are guided by men who actually flew the historic aircraft.
Palm Springs Art Museum
101 Museum Dr.
Palm Springs, CA 92262
After decades spent documenting the breadth of desert life, this museum has shifted its focus to the visual arts. Much like its holdings, the museum building is spare and modern. Contemporary American art is the focus, and Californian works get particular emphasis, along with Native American pieces.
Ruddy's General Store Museum
221 S Palm Canyon Dr.
In 1983, after decades of acquisition, Jim Ruddy decided to display his extensive collection of general store memorabilia, much of it dating back to the 1940s. These days, visitors can step into the past thanks to his re-imagined but authentic general store.
34567 Rancho California Rd.
The area encompasses more than a dozen wineries and more than 29 varietals. Tours, wine tastings and gift shops are offered at individual wineries.