John Sterling Editor in Chief Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News

Topics cover new science policy initiatives, global financial issues, and novel trends.

2009 began as a year of promise and peril. The promise was the historic inauguration of the first African-American U.S. President, Barack Obama, who has expressed firm support for stem cell research, regenerative medicine, genomics, and personalized medicine. In passing the president’s economic stimulus package, the Senate approved approximately $10 billion for the NIH, $3 billion for the NSF, $4.5 billion for renewable energy research including bioethanol and other biotech solutions, and $1.1 billion in grants for disease prevention. All good news for biotechnology and life science research in general.

The peril, of course, remains the dismal economic environment. The causes are complex and far reaching. How and when a sustainable recovery will take place are anybody’s guess.

Among the broad range of subjects to be explored at the BIO International Convention in Atlanta in May, presentations dealing with topics that will be impacted by the new administration’s science and funding policies and sessions that offer suggestions for surviving and competing in an economic world turned upside down will surely be of interest.

Six of my top ten session picks at the upcoming convention are based on new science policy initiatives and global financial issues. The four other presentations were chosen as they represent novel trends which should capture the bioindustry’s attention.

Here are my top-10 2009 BIO International Convention session picks:

  • Transforming the Research Paradigm: 21st Century Models to Unify Discovery Research and Clinical Care (Bioethics)
  • The 111th Congress: What’s Happened and What’s to Come In it First Session (Policy)
  • Global Collaboration Structures to Sustain a Viable Research-Based Biomed Industry (Global Biotech)
  • Raising Capital in an Economic Slowdown (Finance)
  • Stem Cells: Translating Exciting Preclinical Data into Human Clinical Trials (Translational Medicine)
  • Challenges in Stem Cell Manufacturing (Manufacturing of Biologics and Drugs)
  • Building Capacity for Ethical Review of Clinical Research in Developing Countries (Bioethics)
  • Town and Gown: Novel Industry-University Partnerships to Drive Innovation (Tech Transfer/Licensing)
  • Hype or Hope: The Real Prospects for Success in Cleantech (Industrial and Environmental)
  • Beyond GMOs: What Plant Science Advances Will Change Our World (Food and Agriculture)

John Sterling is editor in chief of GEN.

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