Show Preview: Something for everyone at Pittcon

Drug discovery and development professionals may want to give Pittcon a closer look if they haven’t already

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Pittcon Conference and Expo 2014
McCormick Place Convention Center, Chicago
March 2-6, 2014

CHICAGO—The conference and exposition we know as Pittcon is formally the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy, which had its humble beginnings as a small technical conference that was first held in the William Penn Hotel in Pittsburgh in February 1950. Since then, it has grown into an international conference with exhibitors, speakers and attendees that reaches far beyond the narrow focus of analytical chemistry and applied spectroscopy. But, something of the outdated reputation still clings, and many people in drug discovery and development haven’t really put this show as high on their priority list as others. That said, more of them should strongly consider attending and, in that vein, it never hurts to have a tour guide.
DDNews found one in the form of Marian Nardozzi, senior marketing communications specialist for the Pittsburgh Conference, who answered our questions and described the goings-on at the show being held in early March in Chicago this year.
“Approximately 40 percent of our attendees are first-timers every year,” Nardozzi states, noting that Pittcon’s reach continues to expand. “The most common comments we get are about the sheer size of the show. First-time attendees can sometimes be overwhelmed by the size of the expo floor and the number of the technical presentations. The key to a successful week is pre-planning and organization, especially for the first-time attendee.”
 Whether you are a returning conferee or a new attendee, the Pittcon experience is greatly enhanced if a person spends some time getting to know the show before they arrive, Nardozzi emphasizes, suggesting they review all the exhibitors and create a plan by location and day for the booths they wish to visit.
The same applies to the technical presentations, she says—it is best to search by application or methodology and decide which presentations you would want to attend. “Many first-timers do not know that we have a plenary lecture on Sunday afternoon, so I would recommend that travel plans be booked for arrival in time to attend this valuable lecture,” Nardozzi suggests.
“We have created many tools to help with the planning process,” she adds. “Many attendees are unaware that we provide an enhanced mobile app for the mobile device user. It is available for free download for iOS and Android mobile devices and includes all the details of all the technical sessions, exhibitors and short courses, with the ability to create a customized schedule. Using the mobile app gives you the most up-to-date information always at your fingertips. There is also a web-based Agenda Builder available on our website ( However, any agendas created in Agenda Builder are not accessible from the mobile app and vice-versa.”
The Pittcon website also features “Pittcon at a Glance,” which provides all the information on exhibitors, the technical program and short courses, all sortable by different criteria, such as date, methodology or application. And for those who prefer the hard copy, a final program is available onsite and will be posted to the website in PDF form approximately a week before the conference. Nardozzi points out that this is a “static document” and will not contain the most recent updates.
Another part of Pittcon of which many unseasoned attendees are unaware is that the show offers a diverse short course program taught by leading experts in their fields (see story “Short courses add value for Pittcon attendees” in Briefs).
According to yearly surveys, the exposition is the number-one reason that visitors attend Pittcon, but it is difficult to determine how time is divided between the various attractions since this depends on each individual’s reason for attending.
“Some people attend solely to walk the expo floor to see the latest innovations,” Nardozzi notes, “or to search for and purchase a specific piece of equipment for their lab or department. Some people attend strictly for the technical presentations while others come to take advantage of the unique networking opportunities available at Pittcon. However, based on conferee feedback, most of the attendees come to participate and take advantage of all of the above to varying degrees. To help alleviate scheduling conflicts, we have slotted 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. as hours when there are no technical presentations, thereby giving those attendees time to visit the expo floor without having to worry about missing any technical sessions.”
In the era of sequestration and other budgetary challenges, exhibitors continue to value their investment in Pittcon for many reasons, Nardozzi says. “Many exhibitors use Pittcon to launch new products or technologies. This premier conference becomes a significant aspect of an exhibitor’s new product launch. Pittcon attracts quality leads. Since 75 to 80 percent of attendees are decision-makers, this gives exhibitors a rare opportunity to reach a large amount of purchasing power that they might not otherwise reach by other marketing methods. Our surveys show us that 59 percent of conferees either place an order or plan to make a purchase, and 70 percent of those plan to do so within nine months of attending Pittcon. Twenty-five percent of our attendance is international, which gives some exhibitors access to an audience they might not otherwise reach.
“For some of the smaller companies, Pittcon helps build brand recognition and company awareness,” she adds. “In addition, Pittcon gives exhibitors a unique opportunity to network and interact with more than 200 journalists representing over 70 global publications. There is also value, of course, for exhibitors to connect with existing customers to help strengthen and build their relationships.”

Short courses add value for Pittcon attendees
CHICAGO—Noting that that many newcomers to Pittcon are not aware of its diverse short course program taught by leading experts in their fields, the organization’s Marian Nardozzi stresses that “The SC program includes over 100 courses covering over 60 topics ranging from one half day to two-day classes. The costs of these courses are in addition to the cost of registration and the content helps to enhance skills from beginner to intermediate to advanced levels.”
The Pittcon website notes that the 2014 Short Course Program “offers skill-building training for laboratory professionals that will add significant value to their Pittcon experience.” Many attendees reportedly have stated that participation in short courses is the primary factor that justifies their attendance at Pittcon each year, according to the site.
“Courses are taught by experienced professionals who are experts in their fields,” the website notes. “The value of course attendance is enhanced by the opportunities to network with your peers and share your experiences in face-to-face interactions with instructors and fellow attendees.”
Plenary lecture addresses quantitative proteomics
CHICAGO—Dr. Steven A. Carr, director of proteomics at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, will be the Wallace H. Coulter Plenary Lecture speaker for Pittcon 2014 on Sunday, March 2, at 4:30 p.m. in the Grand Ballroom, S100a at McCormick Place. A mixer will immediately follow the lecture.
Carr is internationally recognized as a leader in the development of novel proteomics methods and in their application in biology and medicine. He and his group collaborate with scientists throughout the greater Broad community (Broad Institute, Harvard, Harvard Medical School, and the 17 Harvard-affiliated hospitals) to apply state-of-the art proteomics technology to address compelling questions in biology, chemistry and clinical medicine. He has more than 200 publications on the development and use of proteomics and biological mass spectrometry.
His talk will note that a new era of quantitative biology enabled by mass spectrometry-based proteomic technologies has arrived, enabling scientists to define the content, relative abundance, modification states and interaction partners of proteins in a dynamic and temporal manner on a near-global basis in organelles, whole cells and clinical samples, providing information of unprecedented detail. At the Broad Institute, he observes, “We are employing these technologies in a wide array of studies including delineating the genetic underpinnings of mitochondrial disorders, connecting cancer genotype to molecular phenotype, unraveling the basis of the innate-immune response, identifying the mechanism of action of drug-like molecules and to discover and verify protein biomarkers of disease.” A representative set of project vignettes will be presented to convey a sense of the breadth and depth of application of modern proteomics to biology and medicine.

Life-science exhibitors’ perspectives
Kevin McLaughlin, senior marcomm coordinator at Shimadzu in Columbia, Md., Dr. Matt Rhyner, particle characterization global business manager at Beckman Coulter Life Sciences and a representative of the Life Science Group at Bio-Rad all provided DDNews with a snapshot of Pittcon from an exhibitor’s perspective. Here are their responses to our questions:
DDNews: Have you seen a measureable increase in the participation of pharma, biotech and life-science (Ph/BT/LS) exhibitors and, most important, attendees? If so, roughly what percent of total attendance is relevant to this segment?
Kevin McLaughlin: With larger companies like Agilent, PerkinElmer and Bruker reducing their presence at Pittcon, overall there may have been a decrease in life-science exhibitors. This has, however, actually increased the quantity of biotech and life-science researchers visiting the Shimadzu booth. In general, about 30 percent of the show is related to pharma/biotech/life-sciences. In some respects, it depends on the location of the show and whether there is a concentration of pharma/life-science companies in the area.
Matt Rhyner: Yes, we now see up to 25 percent of our visitors attending from the pharma, biotech and life-sciences industries.
DDNews: In similar fashion, do you find the conference and short courses more geared to this Ph/BT/LS audience than in the past? Are there specific presentations you would like to encourage our readers to attend?
McLaughlin: While never a focused event, there has been an increase in ‘omics-related presentations and short courses over the past years. Topics such as biomarker discovery and clinical research have also noticeably increased. We highly recommend the presentation “Next-Generation Plasma Collection Technology for Clinical and Pharmaceutical Applications,” part of the New Technologies and Methods in Protein Quantitation for Biotherapeutics and Clinical Diagnostics session on Wednesday, as well as the short course “Introduction to LCMS for Chromatographers and Novices,” held on Thursday.
Rhyner: The continued growth of nanotechnology and its interface with biotechnology has offered a tremendous amount of interesting topics in these areas.
DDNews: How do the quantity and quality of leads you generate at Pittcon compare to other shows?
McLaughlin: Pittcon remains a vital show for Shimadzu. In 2013, Pittcon ranked in the top two shows for both quantity and quality of leads for North America. Overall, while attendance at Pittcon has decreased in recent years, the quality of leads has increased. We believe this is related to companies having smaller travel budgets, and only sending individuals who have a direct need to be there, i.e., actually investigating instruments for purchase as opposed to collecting literature.
Rhyner: Pittcon is always one of the best meetings for lead generation for the Beckman Coulter Particle Characterization Group. Though there are fewer leads relative to past meetings, it remains one of the biggest and best shows every year.
DDNews: What new technologies will you be exhibiting this year in Chicago?
McLaughlin: We’ll be exhibiting a number of new instruments, including a new FTIR spectrometer, an X-ray fluorescence spectrometer and a particle size analyzer. Two products directly related to the Life Science/Biotech industry are: Noviplex Cards, a powerful tool used to collect a volumetric sample of plasma (2.5 or 5.0 µL) from a non-volumetric application of whole blood in just minutes [and the] Aggregation Analysis System [which] can provide real-time quantitative evaluation of 100nm to 10μm sub-visible particle aggregates—by screening and identifying aggregation-prone proteins in early-stage drug development, manufacturers can save time and reduce costs.
Rhyner: This year we will be introducing the Multisizer 4e Coulter Counter at Pittcon (for lab use only; not for diagnostics). The high resolution, accuracy and overall range (0.2 μm – 1600 μm) of the Multisizer 4e makes this instrument the choice for sizing and counting all types of cells—from bacteria to adipose. The use of a unique pulse edit algorithm provides an accurate size distribution of a cell population. In addition to static size measurements, the digital pulse processor in the Multisizer 4e allows dynamic size measurements in real time.
In a brief comment, the Bio-Rad spokesperson told DDNews that the company launched a product at Pittcon last year with good overall results. “The press coverage was superb,” the spokesperson notes, and there was “tons of interest in the technology. It’s a place to be seen; perfect to launch a platform.” On the “con” side, he says traffic for Bio-Rad was lower than at cancer conferences, as was lead generation.

About Pittcon
PITTSBURGH—Pittcon is a registered trademark of The Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy, a Pennsylvania non-profit organization. Co-sponsored by the Spectroscopy Society of Pittsburgh and the Society for Analytical Chemists of Pittsburgh, Pittcon is an annual conference and exposition on laboratory science. Proceeds from Pittcon fund science education and outreach at all levels, kindergarten through adult. Pittcon donates more than a million dollars a year to provide financial and administrative support for various science outreach activities, including science equipment grants, research grants, scholarships and internships for students, awards to teachers and professors, and grants to public science centers, libraries and museums. Visit for more information.

Pittcon 2014 Announces Topics for Conferee Networking Sessions
PITTSBURGH—The Pittcon Organizing Committee recently announced the topics for Conferee Networking during Pittcon 2014 in Chicago. Conferee networking sessions are free to all registered attendees and provide an informal venue for a small group of participants to openly discuss topics of mutual interest or solve problems specific to certain instrumentation or procedures.
This year, there are 31 facilitated sessions during conference week, covering topics in life science, chromatography, environmental science, fuel, analytical methods, lab procedures, quality control and more. These unique networking opportunities begin on Sunday and run through Wednesday afternoon and are open to all registered conferees at no extra cost. The informal two-hour sessions bring attendees with similar interests together to discuss, resolve problems and brainstorm new concepts. A sampling of the topics includes:
  • Non-invasive Biomedical Analysis: Detection of Bacterial Infections by Volatile Fingerprints
  • ICP-MS and Chromatography for Metals Speciation
  • Does Your Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Replace LIMS?
  • Regulatory Meets Finance
Conferee Networking Chairman Jane Chan commented, “These sessions are an excellent resource for collaboration. We continually get feedback from our conferee networking participants of how new relationships formed as a result of attending a session develop into an integral part of one’s scientific network. The discussions seem to continue long after the conference has ended.”

Technical sessions and short courses
Some of the short courses most relevant to the pharma/biotech/life-science attendees are:
“It’s Alive! The Rise of Protein Dynamics Analysis by Mass Spectrometry,” taught by Michael Greig and Ben Bolanos from Pfizer Oncology. This half-day course will introduce attendees to mass spectrometry-based methods for analyzing protein dynamics. Proteins can rapidly undergo dramatic changes in primary and tertiary structure, and these changes are key to their cellular function. Understanding this flux in protein state is critical to understanding ways to modify or modulate protein behavior.
“Highly Successful Strategies for LC/MS Quantitation: Current Applications and Emerging Technologies” taught by Rich King of PharmaCadence Analytical Sciences. This course will provide a comprehensive survey of the current LC/MS-based approaches for quantitation. Instrumentation, strategies and methods will be presented with specific focus on sample preparation, chromatography, ionization and mass spectrometry
“Impurities in Pharmaceuticals” taught by Bernard Olsen from Olsen Pharmaceutical Consulting. This course will provide information on a wide variety of impurities that may be present in small-molecule drug substances and drug products.
“Advances in Countercurrent Chromatography and Related Techniques” taught by Martha Knight and Gilda Leitao from CC Biotech LLC. In recent years, new technologies for countercurrent chromatography have been used in new applications of large-molecule fractionation relevant in biotechnology and nanotechnology. A new instrument for centrifugal precipitation chromatography that isolates large molecules from complex samples will be described.
“Fundamentals of Particle Size Analysis with an Emphasis on Light Scattering Techniques” taught by Alan Rawle and Ulf Nobbmann from Malvern Instruments. The main techniques (sieves, sedimentation and electrozone sensing) will be covered, but the main emphasis will be on light scattering techniques, in particular dynamic light scattering.

Compliments of the house
Pittcon provides an International Visitors Bureau onsite to assist international attendees with any aspect of the event. The conference also offers an Employment Bureau which is a free service for those seeking employment to connect with potential employers. The service is suitable for those recently entering the job market or seasoned professionals looking to change their positions.
In addition, there are scheduled complimentary mixers immediately following the Plenary Lecture on Sunday evening, an international mixer on Monday evening and exposition mixers Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

The Pittcon 2014 Technical Program
The 2014 Pittcon technical program includes more than 2,000 presentations offered in symposia, oral sessions, workshops, awards and posters. This year’s program covers a wide range of applications including, but not limited to, biotechnology, biomedical, drug discovery, environmental, food science, fuels/energy, lab management, nanotechnology, polymers/plastics and regulations. The technical program begins on Sunday, March 2 and runs through Thursday, March 6.
Co-programming continues to strengthen and bring diversity to the technical program, according to Pittcon organizers. A sample of some of those symposia highlights of special interest to pharma, biotech and life-science attendees includes:
  • The ACS Division of Analytical Chemistry will conduct six symposia on analytical methods in areas such as clinical diagnostics, environmental analysis, nanomaterials, chemometrics and separation science.
  • Pittcon is partnering once again with the Japan Analytical Instruments Manufacturers' Association. “The State-of-the-Art Technologies That Support Safety and Security in the Future (I & II)” discusses topics in pharmaceuticals, food science, materials and other safety considerations.
  • The Royal Society of Chemistry will offer “Royal Society of Chemistry Session” for using surface-enhanced Raman scattering (SERS) in detection of diseases and pharmaceutical science.
  • The Association of Lab Managers symposium, “Attracting, Developing and Maintaining a Lab’s Greatest Asset, Its Staff,” will address topics related to laboratory management.

10 reasons to attend Pittcon in 2014
Pittcon show management cites 10 reasons this year’s conference and expo is well-worth attending.
  1. Low registration fee—For only $150, attendees are able to learn from technical experts, evaluate vendors and network with scientists from around the world.
  2. Discover new ways to help your lab run more effectively and efficiently from leading companies from 30 countries.
  3. With more than 2,000 technical presentations, you can concentrate on your specific discipline or gain exposure to new technologies.
  4. Meet industry experts, colleagues and world-renown scientists who share your professional interests.
  5. Affordable short courses—such courses will be offered to enhance your industry knowledge and obtain training in new areas.
  6. Mobile app and agenda builder—Create a personal schedule and view exhibitor information from either the Pittcon Mobile App or Agenda Builder.
  7. Global participation, with co-programming of presentations from scientists representing more than 90 countries.
  8. Employment assistance—Meet with professional recruiters, review the available jobs and mingle with hiring managers.
  9. Socialize at mixers—Take a break from your busy day to relax and network with your colleagues. Complimentary refreshments are provided as a thank you for attending Pittcon 2014.
  10. Central location—Pittcon 2014 will be held in Chicago, a transportation hub of the U.S. that simplifies travel from virtually anywhere.

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