PREVIEW: ALA brings even more new offerings to LabAutomation2010

ALA brings even more new offerings to LabAutomation2010 in Palm Springs, to advance knowledge among all types of laboratory professionals at all levels

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PALM SPRINGS,Calif.—Although the Association for Laboratory Automation (ALA) feelsjustifiably proud of its scientific program over the years, ALA ExecutiveDirector Greg Dummer and LabAutomation2010 Program Chair Robyn Rourick bothnote that "good enough" isn't the target at which they are aiming any year—andcertainly not in 2010.
Dummer notes that everyyear, "it's really about making sure our curriculum is outstanding. We want todevelop content that is relevant and important for our audience. So one tacticwe employ is to have ambassadors around the world, recruiting speakers. Thisyear, for LabAutomation2010, we also developed strategic partnerships with anumber of sister organizations to roll out marketplace briefings, such aspresenting the 2009 North American Laboratory Purchasing Trends Report, courtesy of theLaboratory Products Association."
Among the other newofferings of note are a pair of new short courses, adds Rourick, apharmaceutical consultant in San Diego who has been involved in LabAutomationplanning for the past couple years and served as associate program chair forthe 2009 event. There are still "the regulars," such as Liquid Handling BootCamp—A Beginner's Hands-On Introduction to Lab Automation; Biostatistics andExploratory Data Analysis; Molecular Diagnostic Automation; Introduction to LaboratoryAutomation; and others, she notes, all of them important and valuable. ButRourick also points with pride to the newcomers: Automated Liquid Handling inAccredited or Forensic Environments and XML for the Laboratory.
Speaking to the firstnew offering, Rourick says, "We've been on a real mission for the past fiveyears or so to bring in cross-functional areas and draw in new kinds ofattendees."
And speaking to the other, she adds, "computer-based programming isalways important these days, and
Rourick notes that ingeneral, the LabAutomation show has been able to boast that it has a "strongand sound" scientific program, but also notes that ALA has been diligent overthe years to not only commit to multiple tracks—realizing that lab automationinvolves many different industries and kinds of people—but also to add newtracks along the way.
Familiar to pastattendees will be the four tracks of Detection and Separation; Micro- and
Nanotechnologies;High-Throughput Technologies; and Informatics. Added to the mix for 2010 isEvolving Applications of Laboratory Automation, in particular featuringemphasis 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 thateach year, people can see the increasing connectivity of so many areas ofindustry with lab automation, and within the area of lab automation itself," Rourickexplains. "The thinking is that anyone should be able to walk into that trackand take something away from it that is valuable, even if they aren't as deeplyembedded in the industry being covered as other people in attendance."
Among the special educationalsessions, there are several topics in addition to the Laboratory ProductsAssociation's purchasing report, among them Market Overview: India's EmergingPharmaceutical Market; Late Night With LRIG: Rapid-Fire Innovation Session; TheMF3 Center: Pioneering Commercialization from Academia to Market; and The SiLAConsortium for Standardization in Laboratory Automation.
That last offering,Rourick notes, may be of special interest to many attendees, as standardizationis an issue that has been very important to the lab automation industry overthe last decade or so.
"The familiaritycomponent is important with LabAutomation, because it's what allows people tobe at ease and comfortable when they attend. That is important to encouragingpeople to re-attend," Rourick says. "But another major part of the currency ofthe event is found in the special sessions that look at important and evolvingissues 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 matterwhat level they are at in whatever industry they serve, and we want them tomake real connections each day as they learn from speakers and from each otherin conversations about their businesses and their work."
"We consistently leftwith an up-to-date understanding of where theindustry is going, in terms of technology and solutions for lab automationproblems, especially in the drug development and drug discovery spaces," says CliffordHoyt, chief technology officer for Cambridge Research & Instrumentation(CRi), which develops and markets optical imaging systems to advance biomedicalresearch and molecular-based drug and diagnostic development. "We exhibited inthe past at LabAutomation, and we found the meeting to be an extraordinaryconcentration of thought leaders in this space."

Mixing business andlearning
As important asthe "education" and "experience" aspects of LabAutomation show planning are, andas well as the scientific program, special sessions and social events handlethose areas, there is a third "E" that needs to be addressed each year—andassessed again after the conclusion of each conference.
"On the exhibition sideof the business, were always listening to our exhibitors," notes Dummer. "Our objectiveis to create a productive exhibit floor experience for the attendees andexhibitors alike. But as you know, ultimately, delivering solid sales leads isthe key." 
This year, he says,exhibitors had told the Chicago-based ALA that they wanted to see the rolloutof a marketplace that takes the event beyond the conference to a 365-dayexperience.
"So, we're launching anonline product directory like none other," Dummer says. "We're calling it TheMarket Placefor Laboratory Automation, and one of the things that make it different thanother online product directories is that it will be connected to our wiki,LabAutopedia."LabAutopedia is alreadygetting thousands of visitors every month, he notes, and The Market Place will be the retail sideto ALA's wiki, linking educational content with the latest products andservices.
"Bringing The MarketPlaceinto play is a nice amenity for our exhibitors," Dummer says. "They get freeentrance in this inaugural year. If you're not an exhibitor, you can still getin for a premium. We'll be working on more long-term pricing strategies as wego forward."

ALA names $10,000Innovation Award finalists for LabAutomation2010
ALA announced Dec. 9 the top candidates for its$10,000 Innovation Award at LabAutomation2010, as follows:
Jason Haaheim, NanoInkDipPen Nanolithography for Cell-Signaling: Towards Automated Nanolithography
Ali Khademhosseini,Ph.D., Harvard-Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyMicroengineered Hydrogelsfor Tissue Engineering and Stem Cell Bioengineering 
Abe Lee, Ph.D., Universityof California, IrvineMicrofluidic Acoustically-Activated Air-Liquid Cavitiesfor On-Chip Integration of Sample Preparation and Sample Detection
Darren Link, Ph.D.,RainDance TechnologiesMultiplexing Assays with Droplet Libraries
Richard Mathies, Ph.D.,University of California, BerkeleyIntegrated Microfluidic Systems forHigh-Performance Biochemical and Genetic Analysis
Zheng Ouyang, Ph.D.,Purdue UniversityDevelopment of Miniature Mass Spectrometry Analysis Systems
Juan Santiago, StanfordUniversityRapid Chemical Detection and Identification with a Hand Held Device 
Gary Siuzdak, Ph.D., TheScripps Research InstituteTissue Imaging with Nanostructure Initiator MassSpectrometry (NIMS)
Robin Smith, ArtusLabsInc.A New Paradigm for Results and Analytics, the Leap from Data Storage to Knowledge
Pak Kin Wong, Ph.D.,University of ArizonaA 5-in-1 Bioprocessor for Electrokinetic SamplePreparation and Electrochemical Detection
The ALA Innovation Awardrecognizes LabAutomation2010 podium presenters who put forth work thatdemonstrates outstanding innovation and contributes to the exploration ofautomation technologies in the laboratory.
"The ALA InnovationAward continues to recognize the best and brightest podium presentation at theLabAutomation Conference and Exhibition," says Dr. Jörg Kutter, who chairs theALA Innovation Award Panel of Judges. "The quality of submissions for this year'saward signifies that LabAutomation continues to serve as the platform forpresenting innovation in research and technologies from across the field oflaboratory automation."
The award winner will beannounced Wednesday, Jan. 27, at 12:45 p.m. during the closing plenary session ofthe show featuring Bruce Sterling, American science fiction novelist and formerTwilight Zonewriter and actor.   

ALA chooses eightstart-up companies from around the world for fourth annual program
Eight elite start-up companies from around the world will be featuresfor the fourth annual Innovation AveNEW program to be offered by ALA at LabAutomation2010.
Innovation AveNEW'smission is to offer start-up, entrepreneurial companies operating within thelaboratory automation and technology field a venue for positive, collaborativeinteraction and exposure for their product concept or service offering, notes Dummer. Innovation AveNEW will be presented in aspecially designated area on the LabAutomation2010 exhibit floor, he adds.
The eight companies tobe featured at LabAutomation2010 are BSSN Software of Mainz, Germany; CellASIC ofSan 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 continueto do our Innovation AveNEW program, which gives a leg-up to eight promisingstartups each year," Dummer says. "It's a really fun program, and this year thejudging panel has selected start-up companies from Europe, Asia and the UnitedStates."
The Innovation AveNEWprogram serves to afford emerging, start-up companies the opportunity toactively engage and participate in a world-class event by offering theparticipants free exhibit space and travel. The program helps participants togrow and scale their business as well as directly connects them more than 4,000purchasing influencers and decision-makers from more than 40 countries. Only aselect few start-up companies are chosen for this program each year.
Once again this year,two leading non-profit scientific organizations—BioAlps of Switzerland andDECHEMA of Germany—have joined with ALA and have selected one start-up companyeach from their respective region of the world to participate.
"Innovation AveNEW hasevolved into an integral part of the LabAutomation2010 exhibit floor with spotsfor participation becoming highly sought after by start-up companies whoseinnovative products are advancing the field of laboratory automation," says ALAPresident Erik Rubin. "Innovation AveNEW continues to be an example of ALA'scommitment to blending each of its constituent audiences—academia andgovernment, technology users and the technology provider community—andexpanding our association's presence in the global marketplace and emergingindustry sectors."

Last chance for posters
As noted on ALA's Web site, LabAutomation2010 posters arestill being accepted, with a final deadline of Friday, Jan. 22. The ALA remindsattendees that all poster presenters must be registered as full conference,unless you are academic, government or an exhibitor. Submit your abstractonline. The ALA notes that "The poster program is an effective way tocommunicate your research to colleagues and has become the 'presentation ofchoice' for many scientists who present at LabAutomation."

ALA positions for futurewith three new board members
In accordance with theALA's election policy, the organization's board of directors has identified itsthree new board members for acclamation at LabAutomation2010.
"ALA is pleasedto, once again, welcome three respected and highly qualified individuals as directorsto the ALA board," says Rubin. "The finalslate of three individuals, including Robyn Rourick, Craig Schulz and NitinSood, strengthens and diversifies the board and further solidifies it as thepremier professional and scientific society for individuals working within thefield of laboratory automation."
Rourick brings more than19 years of analytical chemistry experience, and most recently, she had focusedextensively in the area of drug discovery and development in the position ofdirector of pharmaceutical sciences at Kalypsis Inc. She is currentlyself-employed as a pharmaceutical consultant.
Schulz currently servesas senior research scientist at Amgen, where he is the lead automationspecialist for process chemistry, medicinal chemistry, clinical immunology,PKDM, protein sciences, materials management, process development and peptidesynthesis.  
Sood brings a wealth ofbusiness and technology expertise through his experience in senior managementpositions in the life-science industry. Sood currently serves as generalmanager of the automation solutions business at Agilent Technologies, where heis directly responsible for all aspects of business, including research anddevelopment, marketing and global operations. Prior to his current role, Soodwas the general manager of Agilent's microfluidics business.

Working onLabAutomation2011  
Already at work on thenext LabAutomation event, the ALA recently announced the confirmation of thefirst speaker in its plenary line-up for LabAutomation2011, to be held Jan. 29to Feb 2 at the Palm Springs Convention Center in Palm Springs, Calif. Thespeaker is Dr. Chad Mirkin of Northwestern University, director of theInternational Institute for Nanotechnology; the George B. Rathmann professor ofchemistry; and a professor of chemical and biological engineering, biomedicalengineering, materials science and engineering, and medicine. Mirkin's talk istentatively titled, "The Polyvalent Oligonucleotide Nanoparticle Conjugate: ANewFrontier in Molecular Diagnostics, Intracellular Gene Regulation andTherapy."

Puttering around PalmSprings
Some things to do whileyou're in town for LabAutomation, when you aren't busy learning and networking
Although Palm Springs offers a good location for learning, with itsfocus on resorts making it easy for attendees of any convention or conferenceto stay close to the show action and not feel shut in, there are things to doin the larger community and surrounding area. So if you're staying for anyextra time, or find yourself with time in between activities atLabAutomation2010, here are a few ideas:
Agua Caliente CulturalMuseum
219 S Palm Canyon Dr.
Village Green Heritage Center, Palm Springs

This museum depicts thehistory of the Agua Caliente Indians from prehistoric times to the present, thoughunearthed artifacts, photographs and other media. 

Big Morongo CanyonPreserve

11055 East Dr.

This preserve offers 4,500acres of desert vegetation and over seven miles of trails to explore, and hasbeen 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-stylestructure, this museum is devoted to Native American art, and it features anauthentic trading post. 

Children's DiscoveryMuseum of the Desert
1-701 Gerald Ford Dr.
Rancho Mirage

With a miniaturerock-climbing area, a magnetic sculpture wall, make-it-and-take-it-apartprojects, a rope maze, a family center, and an area for toddlers, thisattraction focuses on iInstructive, hands-on exhibits. Children must beaccompanied by an adult.

Coachella ValleyPreserve

29200 Thousand PalmsCanyon Rd.
Thousand Palms

Various desert animalsare drawn her by sparkling springs among 20,000 acres of lush greenery, with anidyllic palm oasis therein that served as the backdrop for Cecil De Mille'sepic film, King of Kings.

Desert HolocaustMemorial
Palm Desert Civic CenterPark
Palm Desert

This memorial honorsthose who lost their lives in or endured the atrocities of the Holocaust,telling their story through plaques and seven larger-than-life bronze figures restingupon a double-tiered Star of David 20 feet across.

Indian Canyons
38500 S Palm Canyon Dr.
Palm Springs

This home of theCahuilla Indians is listed in the National Register of Historic Places and featuresoases and abundant wildlife. Remnants of Native American life include rock art,house pits and foundations, irrigation ditches, bedrock mortars, pictographsand stone houses and shelters built high atop cliff walls.
Joshua Tree NationalPark
74485 National Park Dr.
Twentynine Palms

This 794,000-acre areais the result of two deserts, the low Colorado and the high Mojave, comingtogether to create what some call "a geological and floral wonderland."

Knott's Soak City WaterPark Palm Springs

1500 S Gene Autry Trail
Palm Springs

Attractions include RipTide Reef, with its 800,000-gallon wave pool, and Sea Snake, a 50-foot tubeslide. Also featured are 13 waterslides, raft rides and a lazy river ride.
Living Desert Zoo andGardens
47-900 Portola Ave.,Palm Desert
This 1200-acreinterpretive center at the foot of the Santa Rosa Mountains features mountainlions, wolves, javelina, bobcats, golden eagles and more.

LivingDesert Zoo and Gardens
47-900Portola Ave.
Palm Desert

This1200-acre interpretive center at the foot of the Santa Rosa Mountains featuresmountain lions, wolves, javelina, bobcats, golden eagles and more.

Moorten Botanical Garden

1701 S Palm Canyon Dr.
Palm Springs

More than 3000 varietiesof desert plants can be viewed here, including prickly pears, agaves, andcacti. In addition, visitors can view Native American artifacts and rock,crystal and wood formations.

Mount San Jacinto StatePark

25905 Hwy 243

This high-altitude parkfeatures 54 miles of hiking trails, camping and picnic areas and guidedwilderness mule rides

Palm Springs AerialTramway

1 Tramway Rd.

This tramway transportspassengers in rotating cars 2.5 miles from Valley Station in Chino Canyon toand from Mountain Station at the east edge of Long Valley, giving riders notonly access to by also great views of the rugged San Jacinto mountains.

Palm Springs Air Museum
745 N Gene Autry Trail
Palm Springs

This museum showcasesseveral dozen World War II aircraft. Many tours are guided by men who actuallyflew the historic aircraft. 

Palm Springs Art Museum

101 Museum Dr.
PalmSprings, CA 92262

After decades spentdocumenting the breadth of desert life, this museum has shifted its focus tothe visual arts. Much like its holdings, the museum building is spare andmodern. Contemporary American art is the focus, and Californian works getparticular emphasis, along with Native American pieces.

Ruddy's General StoreMuseum
221 S Palm Canyon Dr.
Palm Springs

In 1983, after decadesof acquisition, Jim Ruddy decided to display his extensive collection ofgeneral 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 generalstore.

Temecula Wineries
34567 Rancho CaliforniaRd.

The area encompasses more than a dozenwineries and more than 29 varietals. Tours, wine tastings and gift shops areoffered at individual wineries.

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