The biggest question concerning the future of the Society for Biomolecular Sciences (SBS) is whether to merge with the Association for Laboratory Automation (ALA). For the past 18 months, SBS and ALA have been contemplating a merger to create one organization – the Society for Laboratory Automation and Screening (SLAS). A vote for the merger will occur in less than a month, on May 5, 2010.
The attendees apparent from the SBS 2010 conference still on-going in Phoenix seem to suggest a merger is a good idea. While the number of attendees is consistent with previous years, of the approximately 1700 attendees present, 700 are exhibitors, which is an unusually low ratio of delegate to vendor. It is likely that Pharma lay-offs in 2009 (and beyond!) are the principal cause in this poor ratio as the SBS conference has traditionally attracted Pharma R&D scientists. As the show is principally funded by the exhibition , this is not good news for a sustained future for SBS.
There are signs of significantly increased presence of academia in the SBS conference, however, judging from the conference program of podium speakers, who are turning to screening efforts to understand and combat disease. Their interests are consistent with the mission of the ALA.
For this reason, I support the merger.
What do you think?