What's new at the
ASBMB annual meeting?

Published October 03 2016

Whether you have attended the annual meeting for decades or plan to go for the first time next spring, you’re going to want to plan ahead to get the most out of the experience. The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Meetings Committee and the meeting co-chairs, Natalie Ahn at the University of Colorado–Boulder and Steve McKnight at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, have reimagined the meeting completely after consulting past attendees, prospective attendees and symposia leaders.

Here’s a snapshot of what you need to know:

No wiggle room with this year’s deadline

If you plan to submit an abstract for short talk or travel award consideration, you must complete your submission by Nov. 17. (That’s a Thursday, in case that helps.) Unlike in previous years, there will not be a deadline extension. The society will send lots of reminders, but please put Nov. 17 on your calendar.

Location, location, location

Are you sick and tired of wasting an entire day in airports and on planes to get to a meeting? Well, the 2017 annual meeting will be in Chicago. This almost-central location should allow for a little breathing room in your schedule. You might even have time for Chicago-style hotdogs and pizza, a blues show or Michigan Avenue shopping.

Buckle up for big talks

Top-notch speakers are a staple of any solid meeting, and past ASBMB meetings have had their share of stars. Attendees, though, sometimes have had to choose between going to a great talk and some other programming. The 2017 meeting reboot solves that problem. Each morning, two ASBMB award winners will give their lectures. Those talks will not conflict with other ASBMB programming. Even better: The talks won’t start until 8:45 a.m., so you won’t have to skip breakfast to make it on time.

An experiment

After the big talks, four scientific symposia will run concurrently for two hours. That sounds pretty typical for an ASBMB meeting, but the distinction is in the details. The meeting co-chairs recruited 16 leaders in the field and told them to do whatever it takes to put together the best sessions they’ve ever led. Taking a page out of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute playbook, the co-chairs put their faith in people instead of projects.

Lunch and learn

After the scientific sessions, every poster presenter should be on the exhibition floor. The invited speakers also will be on the exhibition floor, ready to network with attendees and talk science. Poster presenters should expect significant foot traffic this year, because, by design, we’ve limited other events during the poster presentations. Our goals are to make the poster sessions a catalyst for communities coming together within their specific research areas to encourage professional networking and to give the posters the attention they deserve.

Show up for “Spotlight” talks

The meeting co-chairs wanted to showcase attendees’ most compelling work, so they recruited two dozen scientists to evaluate all of the submitted abstracts and select speakers to give 15-minute talks. Attendees will be chosen to give short talks during 24 “Spotlight” sessions across three days. If you want your abstract to be considered for a short talk slot, you must submit it by Nov. 17. Abstracts submitted for the late-breaking deadline later in the year will be programmed only for poster presentations. The early bird gets the worm.

Work out your mind — and maybe your life too

Exciting program offerings continue into the evenings with concurrent technical and professional-development workshops. These 90-minute workshops will cover, among other things, lipidic cubic phase technology, new methods for epigenomic discovery, how to balance your work life and home life, beef up your grant writing skills, and the do’s and don’ts of manuscript preparation.

For more program information, see www.asbmb.org/meeting2017.