Small organisms in the big city

Pharma and surfing mecca San Diego plays host to this year’s ASM meeting

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SAN DIEGO—While the American Society for Microbiology (ASM) may be based in Washington, D.C., where so much legislative and regulatory activity takes places that directly impacts the pharma and biotech world, the organization is taking its educational and professional networking to one of the nation's hotbeds of pharma and biotech research and development: San Diego. That effort would be in the form of the 110th General Meeting of the American Society for Microbiology, being held May 23-27 at the San Diego Convention Center.

In addition to the nearly five days of scientific programming, there are also pre-meeting workshops on Saturday and before the beginning of the meeting on Sunday, May 23. In all, the scientific program will feature nearly 300 individual colloquia, symposia, roundtable discussions, award lectures and poster sessions. Things kick off Sunday evening, at 5 p.m., with the presentation of scientific topics of general interest to ASM members, followed by the ASM Lecture at 6 p.m.

This year, the meeting will offer such sessions as "Nanotechnology and Infectious Diseases" and "Microbes in Extinction Events," in an attempt to bring together diverse aspects of microbiology that are relevant to today's evolving world. According to Jim Sliwa, manager of media relations for ASM, a special session focusing on the microbiome may be of particular interest to attendees, "as it seems to be an emerging topic of interest in microbiology these days."

Overall, the meeting will do an excellent job of covering the recent developments, advances and controversies in all areas of microbiology including clinical microbiology and epidemiology, pathogenesis and host defense, general and applied microbiology, microbial physiology, genetics and molecular microbiology, environmental microbiology and evolution, parasitology and virology, according to Dr. Jeffery F. Miller and Dr. Margaret McFall-Ngai, the chair and vice chair of the General Meeting Program Committee, respectively.

Miller and McFall-Ngai also note that they and ASM feel honored to have three renowned microbiologists set to be present for the opening general session on Sunday.

"Dr. Stephen Quake of Stanford University will present the ASM Lecture, and Dr. Antje Boetius from the Max Planck Institute for Marine Microbiology and Dr. Yoshihiro Kawaoka from the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine will focus on technology and revolutions in microbiology," they note.

"This year's meeting will highlight recent advances in microbial cell biology, genetics and physiology, environmental and applied microbiology, microbial ecology, clinical microbiology and the roles of microbes in health and disease," Miller says. "Our goals are to provide a program with breadth and depth that showcases state of the art science, updates experts in their own fields, and allows attendees to take excursions into areas of microbiology that are outside of their immediate realms of expertise."

The ASM General Meeting showcases the central role of microbes in the biosphere by reporting today's best science in the diverse areas influenced by microbes, he adds, saying, "The breadth of this meeting provides participants opportunities for immersion in fields of specialization as well as forays into different disciplines."

Lab training for French-speaking Africans

WASHINGTON, D.C.—The ASM recently completed the first French language course for laboratory diagnostic testing of tuberculosis (TB), developed using funding from the President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), and organized by the ASM's International Laboratory Capacity Building Program (LabCap). The course focused on Mycobacterium tuberculosis, and was held Feb. 22 to March 5, 2010, in Abidjan, CÙte d'Ivoire.

This course is part of an effort led by ASM, through its LabCap Program, under the governance of the LabCap Committee housed within the ASM International Board, and supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) International Laboratory Branch of the Global AIDS Program, which aims to create training opportunities for French- and Portuguese-speaking lab professionals in Africa and other resource-limited settings. To date, courses developed for the African Centre for Integrated Laboratory Training are presented in English, and thus not accessible to most people from PEPFAR-supported countries such as Angola, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Haiti and Mozambique.

LabCap is now working with the CDC to develop another French-language course, focusing on acid-fast bacilli microscopy external quality assurance, which is scheduled for roll-out in Dakar, Senegal, in August.

New edition of ASM Press biotechnology text

WASHINGTON, D.C.—ASM noted on March 2 that Molecular Biotechnology: Principles and Applications of Recombinant DNA is now in its fourth edition, bringing it "thoroughly up-to-date with the latest findings and the latest industrial, agricultural, pharmaceutical, and biomedical applications."

"It has been estimated that worldwide there are currently several thousand biotechnology companies employing tens of thousands of scientists. When the exciting science being done at universities, government labs, and research institutes around the world is factored in, the rate of change and of discovery in the biological sciences is astounding," says Bernard Glick of the University of Waterloo, who co-authored the book with Jack Pasternak, also of the University of Waterloo, and Cheryl Patten of the University of New Brunswick.

Virology text focuses on families

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Earlier this year, ASM Press published a new virology textbook that educates the reader by focusing on the families. Based on the author's experiences teaching virology for more than 35 years, Virology: Molecular Biology and Pathogenesis is said to enable readers to develop a deep understanding of fundamental virology by emphasizing principles and discussing viruses in the context of virus families.

"[This book] is meant to be used as a textbook for a comprehensive virology course aimed at advanced undergraduate and graduate students. It was conceived and organized to express my avid belief that the best way to teach virology is to discuss viruses in the context of virus families," says author Leonard Norkin of the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

All the best in sunny San Diego

Plenty to do, from beasts to blocks to beaches

SAN DIEGO—The Orange County and Los Angeles area often comes to mind when people think of Southern California, yet San Diego is a place of distinction as well, as the second-largest city in California and the ninth-largest in the nation—and Forbes magazine listed it as the fifth-wealthiest city in the United States. And, of course, as the readers of ddn well know, the city and its surrounding area is a hotbed of pharmaceutical and biotech activity.

Let's run down a few of the heavy hitters there—no, not folks like Amylin, Anadys Pharmaceuticals, Exelixis Inc., Ligand Pharmaceuticals, or any of the many other companies based their or with major operations there. We're going to talk about some of the biggest entertainment destinations.

San Diego Zoo
One of the premier zoos in the United States, this facility is a sanctuary for thousands of animals and rare plants. Exhibits include a 7.5-acre multispecies habitat featuring elephants, California condors, jaguars and more that helps teach visitors about the zoo's conservation efforts. There is also a giant panda exhibit, at which a female named Bai Yun arrived in 1996 and has given birth to five cubs since then, including the youngster one she is raising now. Animal enclosures are designed to be as realistic as possible to promote the natural behavior of the animals, so that guests can get a better sense of how the animals live in the wild, whether polar bears in the Arctic tundra, okapis in the Ituri Forest or bonobos in the jungles of the Congo.

The zoo offers a guided bus tour of the grounds, as well as the Skyfari aerial tram that provides visitors a bird's-eye view of the 100-acre facility. At the Wegeforth Bowl and Hunte Amphitheatre, guests can watch animals such as sea lions and wolves that can't be seen anywhere else in the zoo show off some of their natural behaviors. The zoo also features restaurants ranging from the gourmet to the casual.

Wild Animal Park
If you didn't get enough animals at the San Diego Zoo itself, or weren't satisfied that the enclosures were realistic enough, try a visit to the zoo's 213-acre Wild Animal Park, a separate location feature huge open enclosures that allow herds of African and Asian animals to roam and interact with each other. Visitors can get up close to these wild and endangered animals thanks to the Journey into Africa tour, which emulates safari tours in Africa but with vehicles that run on biodiesel for a more eco-friendly vibe. The experience brings visitors to eye level with animals such as white rhinoceroses, giraffes, Cape buffalo, Roosevelt's gazelles, African crowned cranes and more.

Newer and more adventurous ways to explore the park include tooling around on a two-wheeled electric personal transporter that is designed specifically for off-road travel to take riders close to wildlife, or the Flightline, a zip-line attraction that allows people to soar over the park.

Other animal exhibits can be found at the park as well, in a more zoo-like fashion, allowing guests to see a cheetah, alligator, owl or boa constrictor—and the park features two different animal shows daily as well.

Certainly, Shamu the killer whale is the most famous denizen of this aquatic animal park, but there is also a the Shark Encounter, which allows visitors to walk through a submerged tube while sharks swim around them; the Wild Arctic and Penguin Encounter exhibits; a California tide pool exhibit; a freshwater aquarium and the World of the Sea aquarium; Wonders of the River; and the Sesame Street Bay of Play.

LEGOLAND California
This park reflects just how varied and thematic the LEGO toys themselves have become over the decades, with rides, shows and attractions in areas with such themes as heroes and adventurers, a lost kingdom, pirates, knights and more.

Beach life
It is Southern California, so you might want to hit the beaches. The best of the bunch include San Onofre State Beach, Oceanside City Beach, Carlsbad State Beach, Solana Beach, the Cardiff Beaches, the Del Mar Beaches, Torrey Pines State Beach and Park, the La Jolla Beaches and the La Jolla Reefs, Pacific Beach, Mission Bay and Mission Beach, Ocean Beach, the Point Loma Beaches, Coronado Municipal Beach, Silver Strand State Beach and Imperial Beach.

Downtown dynamics

Notable neighborhoods to visit while you're spending time around the convention center

SAN DIEGO—Downtown San Diego is unlike many metropolitan downtown areas, framed by inland mountains and one of the most beautiful natural harbors around.

The historic Gaslamp Quarter, for example, features Victorian-era buildings and numerous fine restaurants, as well as 35 pubs and nightclubs and 100 retails shops—in addition to theaters, art galleries, offices and residential/work lofts. Dining in this neighborhood is considered by many to be a global culinary journey, with such cuisines as Afghan, Brazilian, Chinese, Indian, Italian, Mexican, Persian, Spanish, Thai and more.

For the largest downtown neighborhood, visit East Village, which encompasses 130 blocks and was revitalized from a once-blighted warehouse district. Now it is home to luxury hotels and restaurants, rooftop bars, cafÈs, boutique shops, galleries and live music venues scattered throughout the neighborhood.

For a more specific ethnic flavor, there's always the Little Italy neighborhood, which was once home to the city's tuna fishing industry. Attractions include patio cafÈs, restaurants, pubs, art galleries, shops, hotels and Amici Park. Cuisines feature dishes from both Southern and Northern Italy.

We'll conclude with one more neighborhood, Horton Plaza, which is notable or being named after its main resident attraction, also called Horton Plaza, a multi-level outdoor shopping and entertainment center. Since 1985, Horton Plaza has offered 130 specialty shops, restaurants, a movie theatre, and performing arts theatre. The center was created to resemble a European market place and function like an amusement park with colorful pathways, bridges and staggered levels.

Filling your belly

A premier list to help you please your palate

From the Web site comes the follow list of top destinations for "overall dining experience." You can also visit the site to find out the top locations for service, food, ambience, value and bar/wine selection.

Best Restaurants: Overall Dining Experience

Baci Ristorante (Italian cuisine, located in Old Town)
Bertrand at Mister A's (American cuisine, located downtown)
Blue Wave Bar and Grill (American cuisine, located in Point Loma & Ocean Beach)
Caffe Bella Italia (Italian cuisine, located in Pacific/Mission Beach)
Delicias (California cuisine, located in North County Inland)
Donovan's (Steak restaurant located downtown and in La Jolla)
George's California Modern (California cuisine, located in La Jolla)
Mille Fleurs (California cuisine, located in North County Inland)
Primavera Ristorante (Italian cuisine, located in Coronado)

New products debut at ASM 2010

Pipetman M
Gilson Inc.

Introducing Pipetman M, the new ergonomic motorized pipette from Gilson and the latest evolution of Pipetman P—the world standard for more than 35 years. The innovative Pipetman M boasts multiple pipetting modes, variable piston speeds, and virtually zero pipetting forces. All for less than you would expect to pay for a motorized pipette. As simple as Pipetman.

Gilson Inc.
(800) 445-7661
Visit us at ASM Booth #112

SPRIworks Fragment Library System
Beckman Coulter

This benchtop system from Beckman Coulter can construct up to 10 fragment libraries for the Illumina Genome Analyzer in about 5 hours with less than 5 minutes of hands on time. SPRIworks System I is made up of three components: the SPRI-TE Nucleic Acid Extractor, a method card that controls liquid handling, and a cartridge containing all the reagents required to prepare a single library.

Beckman Coulter
Visit us at ASM Booth #545

High-performance flow cytometer
Accuri Cytometers

A high-performance flow cytometer simplified, the Accuri C6 Flow Cytometer System features two lasers, two light scatter and four fluorescence channels. Priced comparable to a fluorescent plate reader and with lifetime ownership costs one-tenth of the market leader, the C6 fits virtually every laboratory's budget. The compact instrument can accommodate large assay runs with the optional, automated CSampler.

Accuri Cytometers
(734) 994-8000
Visit us at ASM Booth #115

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