The annual Association of Biomolecular Resources Facilities (ABRF) meeting will take place from February 29 to March 3 in sunny Palm Springs, California. The conference is a major event for core laboratories. Core labs provide scientists at universities and other institutions with shared services, advanced expertise and access to new technologies, thus making university research and scientific discoveries possible.

IBO spoke with Sheenah Mische, PhD, ABRF 2020 Program Chair and Associate Professor, Department of Pathology, and senior director, Advanced Research Technologies, NYU Grossman School of Medicine.

1. How does ABRF serve the scientific community?

The Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities (ABRF) is a Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) member international scientific society dedicated to advancing shared research resource core laboratories through research, communication and education. With over 700 members from 19 countries working within or in support of shared resource cores in government, academia, research, industry and commercial settings, ABRF represents a collaborative knowledge base to advance the adoption of more rigorous, reproducible and transparent research practices.

2. How long has ABRF been hosting its annual conference and what are the aims of the conference?

ABRF is celebrating 31 years with our 2020 meeting in Palm Springs, California. As the largest international organization representing shared resource cores, the ABRF Annual Meeting is THE annual conference for technology-enabled multidisciplinary research. ABRF 2020: Empowering Team Science represents the collaborative energy of technology, scientific research and core leadership. It is THE must-attend meeting for core laboratory professionals of all disciplines. Our partner vendors, representing an array of technology and applications, will host exhibit booths as well as the popular technology showcases and networking events. These activities provide in-depth education and networking opportunities not always available at other meetings

3. What are a few of the highlights of this year’s conference?

From the practical to the extraterrestrial, ABRF 2020 will have a strong focus on multidisciplinary research to drive collaborative research scientifically and administratively. Some the highlights include exciting new multiparameter technologies encompassing genomics, proteomics, metabolomics, bioinformatics, transcriptomics applications and data to enhance our understanding of cells, genetics and biology. These talks, tutorials and presentations will underscore the euphoric era of ‘omics in which we are now living and performing experiments. And experts will speak on funding, entrepreneurism, career development and business practices to sustain research carried out by our members. A sampling of our plenary talks include:

  • George Church, Professor of Genetics, Harvard Medical School, who will receive the ABRF Award for his groundbreaking research in genomic sequencing and his leadership in the fields of gene therapy and synthetic biology technologies
  • Kasthuri Venkateswaran of JPL/NASA, who will update ABRF attendees on “Microbes in Space: Issues and Solutions about ‘Omics in Space’”
  • Joshua Denny, CEO of the National Institutes of Health’s All of Us Research Program, who will expand our understanding of precision medicine, and the role shared research resources and national programs in data management, data sharing and open science

4. As an example of the work of ABRF Research Groups, can you briefly describe an ongoing study?

The hallmark of ABRF, distinguishing it from all other professional scientific societies, are the ABRF-sponsored multi-site Research Group (RG) studies. The RGs represent expertise for an array of cutting edge and established technology platforms, and perform multi-center research studies to determine and communicate best practices and community-based standards. RG study participants prepare more effectively for change in the analytical environment and stay current with best practices for scientific rigor and reproducibility.

In conjunction with the ABRF web-based discussion forum, RGs contribute to the education of resource core directors, scientists, and administrators, customers and interested members of the scientific community.

An example of one current Research Group study is from the Metagenomics and Microbiome Research Group (MMRG), which is evaluating innovative metagenomics technologies and applications to study microbes in Antarctica and outer space, and establishing a Whole Cell Microbial Reference Standard using RNA and DNA sequencing.

ABRF 2021 will take place March 7–10, 2021, at Hynes Convention Center in Boston, Massachusetts.

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