Last Tuesday and Wednesday I attended the Bio-IT World Conference & Expo, at the World Trade Center in Boston. I was a booth babe for Bioinformatics.org, (“The open access institute”) and also was pimping my books. I discovered the BioInformatics organization about a decade ago while pimping my books (what else) at the O’Reilly BioInformatics conference in Tucson. They started out as basically a sourceforge for bioinformatic software, kind of a reaction to corportization of all things genomic, and have grown from there. I wrote about them a little in my famous Salon article How I Decoded the Human Genome.
Because I’m a total dummy and didn’t look at a map, it took me forever to get there from the place I was staying, one mile away, so I only caught the last twenty minutes of the talk given by Philip Bourne on the occasion of his being named 2009’s Franklin Laureate, by the Bioinformatics Organization — an award named in honor of Ben Franklin, who refused to patent his inventions. I saw virtually none of the show. I attended no sessions, and I didn’t even cruise the exhibit hall. Instead, along with Bioinformtics Organization colleagues Jeff Bizarro and Shailender Nagpal, I staffed our organization’s tiny booth and fielded whatever questions came my way– sometimes fielding them lamely, at which times I was glad to be backstopped by Jeff and Shailender.
Some impressions follow. Because my exposure to the show was so limited, they’re kind of like an image taken by a pinhole camera, so take them for whatever they’re worth. The most interesting part of the whole show, for me, was the discussion with Melina Fan, PhD, founder and executive director of the group Addgene, about which more below.