Wednesday 19 September 2012

The AGBT lottery opens soon

The 2013 AGBT meeting runs from the 20th to the 23rd of February and, as always, is in sunny Marco Island, Florida. This annual meeting is the one to watch for announcements around new genomics technologies. Last years hot topic was Oxford Nanopore’s announcement of MinION (although no-one appears to have head anything since). What will be the number one story this year? Well the 2013 meeting has an increased focus on clinical applications of NGS, so perhaps GnuBio will wow everyone with their technology, or perhaps someone will speak about exciting methods for analysis of circulating tumour DNA? ;-)

Buy your lottery ticket soon:  

Registration opens on October 1st and this year all applications will go into a clearing system to allocate the 1000 or so available spaces. One of the more common gripes from users has been the registration process. AGBT in 2011 & 2012 sold out in a matter of hours, the scientific equivalent of a a Stone Roses concert! This is not the conference organisers fault but rather shows how important the meeting is to users of NGS.

It perhaps also has something to do with being in Florida in February. Sun, sea and seqs anyone?

The organisers are going to limit the number of attendees from individual labs and institutes so expect arguments at Broad, Sanger and WashU in December. Registration includes the meeting, hotel costs and meals and the legendary AGBT party. Last year one post-doc was there in a home-made Storm Trooper costume that cost over $1000. I’m not sure what the theme is this year but you can expect more nerdy fun.

A list of things to do at AGBT:
  •  Enter the competitions: last year I won an iPad2. I entered almost every competition going and there were over 20 big prizes on offer including iPads, Apple TV’s, etc. The odds are pretty good with around 1000 attendees and most not bothering to enter. 
  • Attend the parties: last years parties were as good as usual. Lots of choice on offer and Agilents video wall was fantastic. A big headache with AGBT is the entertainment on offer, I am supposed to be working the next day for goodness sake! Oh well you can always sleep on the plane home. 
  • Catch up in the bar: AGBT is a great place to catch up with colleagues you have not seen for ages. Everyone is in party mood and usually excited by the pre-AGBT announcements. Lots of ideas get floated around and who knows your next big collaboration might start over a beer.
  • Don’t forget your bag: everyone at AGBT ends up with the same bag as they give out an exceptionally good one compared to most conferences (now I know where my $2400 registration fee goes). Wirte your name in your notebook or use a different bag for carrying round the meeting as it is too easy to get yours mixed up and lose all your notes. 
  • Follow the conference on-line: MassGenomics, EdgeBio, Core-Genomics, Jonathan Eisen's blog, Omically Speaking, Pathogens Genes and Genomes all had coverage if you could not make it or get in and dont forget CrapBio, there #notAGBT announcement was the laugh of AGBT. Twitter will again have the #AGBT to follow. 
  • Don’t forget the suncream: It was hot last year and swimming in the sea was certainly the order of the day. It being February I did not even think to bring suncream but fortunately I think Nanostring gave out little pumps of SPF50. Who wants to go home with sunburn! 
  • Blogging and tweeting: I tried blogging through the whole meeting last year and am not sure I’ll try again. It is hard work making quickly scribbled notes understandable to a wider audience and it took too much time. Time I could have spent in the bar! There are very clear policies on blogging or tweeting at this years meeting although to go by last year most speakers are happy to get the coverage. I saw a large spike in readers of my blog and Core-Genomics received over 10,000 page views in February. Thanks to everyone that commented.

Changes to AGBT: One really annoying problem with AGBT (and all parallel session meetings) is the inevitable overrun of talks, stronger chairing and timekeeping would really help in moving between sessions to catch all the talks you want to hear.

There were hundreds of posters last year; far too many even to walk past. It would be great if these were all online, downloadable and searchable a few weeks beforehand so I could arrange to speak with the person presenting the poster with specific questions. It would also help if they were collected together under different themes using tags of some kind.

I’d like to see more people coming from the developing world this year. NGS is not just for the rich (although it helps to have a few $Million).

I’d also like to have a session for core facility labs, perhaps run by ABRF. Talking to other core labs is always useful, even if it just helps to reassure me that I am not the only person facing particular issues.

See you there (I hope).

PS: If anyone wants to share a room at next years meeting feel free to leave a comment. Double occupancy saves my budget a ton of cash and as my lab is funded by public donations I don’t see any reason not to share. Please don’t “apply” if you snore!


  1. You forgot to mention the bit about taking along an extra bag to pack all the free goodies :)

    Thanks for the shout-out to the blog.

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