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Top genome researchers gather at Cold Spring Harbor

Some 500 of the top genome scientists from around the world meet at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory this week for the annual Genome Sequencing & Biology meeting. The researchers will exchange their latest findings in the burgeoning field of genome science. Sessions on Bioinformatics, Comparative Genomics, and High Throughput Biology (among others) will comprise more than 325 presentations in a fast-paced, intense four-day conference. The meeting will address the latest developments and breakthroughs in the ongoing effort to ascribe function to the human genome as well as how recent advances continue to shape our understanding of human evolution and diversity. Journalists interested in covering the event should call 516-367-6947 or e-mail for more information. Live and archived streaming video of the meeting are available via the world wide web.

Participants at the meeting include Francis Collins (National Human Genome Research Institute), Ronald Davis (Stanford University), Richard Gibbs (Baylor College of Medicine), Jim Kent (University of California, Santa Cruz), Eric Lander (Whitehead Institute, MIT Center for Genome Research), Svante Paabo (Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology), Michael Ashburner (EMBL-EBI), Robert Waterston (Washington University School of Medicine), and Ewan Birney (EMBL-EBI).

At the Cold Spring Harbor Genome Meeting in May 2000, Birney created Genesweep, a whimsical wagering pool in which many scientists have placed their bets on their own estimates of the number of genes in the human genome. Currently, estimates range from approximately 25,000 to over 150,000. There will be many losers when the Genesweep winner is announced in May 2003.

“The total number of genes in an organism’s genome depends on subtle, non-universal definitions of what constitutes a gene, so there’s been a great debate about the ‘number’ of human genes,” says David Stewart, Director of Meetings and Courses at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. “In any case, the field of remaining Genesweep contenders could narrow considerably at this year’s meeting when researchers will try to reach a consensus, though necessarily somewhat arbitrary, on the rules for defining a gene.”

“As a break from the serious work involved in genome research, Genesweep has been a lot of fun,” says Stewart, who adds, “In the struggle to find the best methods for detecting known and discovering new elements and properties of genes and genomes, we’re learning many interesting lessons.”

Written by: Public Affairs | | 516-367-8455

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About Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory

Founded in 1890, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory has shaped contemporary biomedical research and education with programs in cancer, neuroscience, plant biology and quantitative biology. Home to eight Nobel Prize winners, the private, not-for-profit Laboratory employs 1,100 people including 600 scientists, students and technicians. The Meetings & Courses Program annually hosts more than 12,000 scientists. The Laboratory’s education arm also includes an academic publishing house, a graduate school and the DNA Learning Center with programs for middle and high school students and teachers. For more information, visit