Thursday, March 11, 2010

The 49th Annual Meeting of the Society of Toxicology in Salt Lake City

The 49th annual SOT meeting was held from March 7 to March 11 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City Utah. The conference had 210 sessions that accounted for 2,405 presentations. While the exact number of attendees had not yet been announced several vendors suggested the number of attendees (not counting vendors) was around 4,000, which was less than the year before. The poor economy of the previous year was blamed for the drop off in attendance.

While I was not able to attend many of the talks, there were numerous poster presentations that brought large numbers into the exhibition show floor. Unlike many meeting that I have attended, posters were only available for viewing 3 hours, with a new group of posters being put up morning in afternoon each day.

In regards to the exhibition, BioTek was the only microplate instrumentation company exhibiting at the show. Traditional reagent companies were also limited, with Enzo Life Sciences and Promega being the most notable. The exhibition boasted a large number of assay service companies offering assay development and ADME/Tox testing. These contract lab service companies were the vast majority of the exhibitors present; with some have immense 40 x 60 booths. There were numerous animal testing equipment companies present. This equipment was primarily for rodents, but animal models also included dogs, rabbits and primates.

This was the first year that BioTek attended the meeting as a vendor and as such had a low priority for booth location. As a result the booth was located closer to Siberia than the front door of the exhibition hall. Despite being located at the far end of the hall and not having BioTek’s name in the published meeting vendor program listing a number of very satisfied customers stopped by the booth.

As with any scientific meeting the presentations and exhibits is only part of the charm. The location is almost as important as the science and this meeting was no different. The city itself is a haven for skiers with several ski resorts located nearby. The locals claim that Utah has the best snow in the country. I found it hard to argue. Many attendees skipped out of talks, came early or planned on staying after the conference to get in some skiing. The weather was pleasant with temps in the 50s each day despite a large amount of snow in the surrounding mountains. Numerous restaurants, including a couple of brewpubs were within walking distance of the convention center. Next year the 50th annual meeting is being held in Washington DC. It should be a good one as well.

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