The 2018 SIVB Conference was held from June 2nd to June 6th, 2018, in Saint Louis, Missouri, at the Hyatt at the Arch in downtown Saint Louis. This was an exciting and successful conference that had a major emphasis on genome editing as it applies to the life sciences and in vitro biology.  There were also many receptions, tours, a social event and time during the poster sessions for exchange of scientific information and to network and initiate collaborations.

During the Conference’s Opening Ceremony on Sunday, June 3rd, the Society for In Vitro Biology honored Dr. John Finer and Dr. Sandra Schneider with SIVB Lifetime Achievement Awards to recognize their service for the society and to their respective sections. Dr. Fredy Altpeter and Dr. Randall Niedz were honored with the SIVB Fellow Award, a distinguished award that recognizes members who made outstanding contributions to in vitro science research, teaching or administration. The Society honored Dr. Pon Samuel with the SIVB Distinguished Scientist Award that recognizes outstanding mid-career professionals who have made significant contributions to the field of in vitro biology. Finally, Dr. Addy Alt-Holland, Dr. Raj Deepika Chauhan, Dr. Michael Dame, Dr. Eugene Elmore, Dr. Thomas Flynn, Dr. John Harbell, Dr. Maria Jenderek, Dr. Denry Sato, Shubha Subbarao, Dr. Brad Upham, Dr. Veena Veena and Dr. Mary Welter were selected by the SIVB President to receive the SIVB Distinguished Service Award for their significant efforts in support of the SIVB programs and endeavors.

The society was honored to have Dr. Rachel Haurwitz, President and CEO of Caribou Biosciences, as the Robert H. Lawrence Jr. Keynote Symposium speaker in her inspiring and engaging presentation “CRISPR Genome Editing:  Hacking the Genome to Transform the Future of Medicine, Animal Health and Agriculture.” The lecture that was held on Sunday, June 3rd, was followed by a special Keynote Reception to honor Dr. Haurwitz.

The workshop titled “Flow Cytometry for Genome Sizing, Editing, and RNA Targeting” was held on Saturday, June 2nd and opened the Conference’s scientific program. Sponsored by Beckman Coulter, this hands-on workshop highlighted state-of-the-art technology for studying plants and animals at the cellular and subcellular levels. Four Plenary Sessions titled “Genome Editing Technology Development:  Cas9 and Beyond,” “Commercial Applications of Genome Editing,” “Consumer Biotech,” and “Ethics and Societal Implications of Genome Editing” combined together SIVB members from both the In Vitro Animal Cell Sciences and the Plant Biotechnology Sections. In addition, there were five In Vitro Animal Cell Science (IVACS) Section Symposia including: “Frontiers in Translational Tissue Modeling,” “Using Mass Spectrometry for Specialized Detection of Disease Markers and Processes,” “MicroRNAs and Cellular Differentiation,” “Next Generation Approaches for In Vitro Toxicology,” and “Cell and Molecular Engineering Using Programmable DNA Binding Proteins”.  There were also twelve Plant Biotechnology Section (PBS) Symposia including: “Best Practices and Advances in Micropropagation,” “Cell Wall Manipulations Towards Applications,” “Elicitation of Secondary Metabolites in Plants and Metabolite Engineering,” “Use of Morphogenic Genes to Improve Genome Modification in Maize and Sorghum,” “Cannabis Micropropagation and Biotechnology,” “Systems to Deliver Genome Engineering Reagents to Plant Cells,” “Engineering Photosynthetic Efficiency,” “Opportunities, Challenges and Good Lab Practices in High-Throughput Plant Production Systems,” “Plant Hormone and Signal Transduction,” “Double Haploid Techniques for Plant Breeding,” “Cannabis Genomics,” and “Recent Advances in Genome Editing for Cassava Improvement”.  There were also ten combined IVACS and PBS sessions for contributed papers or interactive poster presentations.

The SIVB encourages and supports Student and Post-doctoral educational sessions and activities during the annual meetings. The students skillfully organized an interactive Student Symposium on “Publishing Academic Work:  Unmasking Predatory Journals”, a Student Networking Luncheon that focused on “Employer Engagement,” a Student Affairs Ad Hoc Student Committees Breakfast, and non-competitive Student Oral Presentations session. In addition, various Poster Sessions, Interactive Poster Sessions, and Student and Post-doc Oral Presentation Competitions were organized by both Society sections during the conference. These important activities serve as a platform to recognize the research work of students and post-docs and provide them with valuable feedback, enhance their public speaking skills, and encourage education and exchange of scientific information during the conference.

The joint sections’ social on Monday, June 4th, and was located on the roof top floor of the Hyatt.  During the social, the SIVB hosted the first rollout of the CAST Issue Paper titled “Genome Editing in Agriculture:  Methods, Applications, and Governance” where a Task Force Lead Dr. Adam Bogdanove of Cornell University gave the presentation which was followed by a QueComplimentary copies of this Issue Paper were provided to those in the audience.

The In Vitro Animal Cell Science and Plant Biotechnology Section “Business Meetings” were held on Monday, June 4th, and the “SIVB Business Meeting” was held the following day. In addition to the receptions, the conference’s social activities included the “Horses, History and Fun” a special evening at the Anheuser Busch Grant’s Farm, “R&D Innovation Tour hosted by Millipore Sigma” and the “The Heart of Biotechnology Tour” hosted by The Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, KWS, BRGD Campus of St. Louis Community College, and Monsanto.”

The 2018 conference allowed students, post-docs, SIVB members and invited speakers to experience scientific research from around the world, strengthen existing connections and establish new ones in a convenient, friendly atmosphere. We hope to see you at the 2019 SIVB Conference in Tampa, Florida!

Submitted by David Songstad, 2018 Program Chair