The 2009 In Vitro Biology meeting is now history. And what a meeting it was! Excellent, in-depth symposia and workshops, a fascinating keynote address from Russ Miller of the DOE, engaging student activities and the occasional fun social event or two. Highlights for me include the two reports from the Sangamo/Dow collaboration on progress made using zinc-finger technology to specifically modify plant genomes and the June Bradlaw symposium on “Toxicology in the 21st Century”. But most of all, I particularly enjoyed participating in the student networking symposium and student luncheon. Talk about refreshing! I also thought the newly instituted student and post-doc oral presentation competitions were enjoyable and stimulating sessions. All in all, the 2009 meeting was a very successful, enlightening and collegial meeting, reflecting the charm and culture of the city of Charleston itself. Now, time to start planning for next year! And, as some of you already are aware, planning for 2010 has already begun in earnest.
So, what about the meeting in 2010? What’s so special about next year? Well, for starters, the 2010 meeting will be held in cooperation with the International Association of Plant Biotechnology (IAPB) and will be held in St. Louis, from June 6-11. The 2010 meeting will be a bit of a departure from the usual SIVB meeting in that the IAPB is a very large, international sister organization that meets every 4 years. The IAPB meeting is typically several times the size of our usual SIVB meeting and they are anticipating upwards of 1500-2000 people in 2010. Consequently, SIVB faces several challenges with respect to organizing a “joint” meeting that make planning for the 2010 meeting uniquely critical. The organizers of the 2010 IAPB meeting have arranged the schedule so that each morning is composed of general interest plenary sessions, followed by numerous (48 and counting), plant-specific concurrent sessions in the afternoons. The IAPB Program Planning committee has also tried to choose plenary topics and speakers that would be of general biology or biotechnology interest, be it plant or animal. The Plenary session topics range from the “Impact of Climate Change” to “Systems Biology” to “RNAi and Novel Methods for Gene Expression Control”. The speaker list is impressive and growing every day. There are some familiar names, including Inder Verma, Robb Fraley and our very own Mary Ann Lila. This is all well and good. So then, what are the challenges that SIVB must overcome in 2010? First and foremost, we need to ensure that we continue to fund-raise for SIVB to support SIVB-specific activities and functions over the next 12 months. These funds are particularly important to support our student and educational programs, including student fellowships to cover meeting registration at the 2010 meeting. In addition, it is imperative that we provide a substantive meeting for all of our members and, to that end, SIVB is organizing 7 IVACS-specific symposia to be held during the afternoons (Tues-Thurs) of the IAPB meeting when other “concurrent” plant sessions are being held. Planning for these IVACS sessions has already begun; the topics here range from Biosensors, to 3-D Models to Stem Cells. Scientifically, the 2010 meeting is already shaping up as one of outstanding breadth and substance, with an outstanding plant-centric lineup, as is expected, and a very strong animal-focused program for our IVACS members also. SIVB will also strive to maintain its identity and character during the meeting, by organizing our own social event, student activities and SIVB-specific functions, while at the same time integrating with the IAPB meeting for most of the scientific sessions. Among them, SIVB is taking the lead in organizing a set of micropropagation symposia that cover a range of important issues. These symposia are being organized by Barbara Reed, Mike Kane and Valerie Pence and they already have commitments from some of the top international researchers in field. While the 2010 meeting presents some interesting challenges to the SIVB, it also represents an opportunity to mingle with colleagues from our sister society and to potentially recruit new members to SIVB. So, please plan to attend the 2010 IAPB/SIVB meeting and act as ambassadors for our society. Let the IAPB members know about the benefits of SIVB membership!
Look for updates and information regarding the 2010 meeting on the SIVB website at www.sivb.org.
Todd Jones, SIVB President