Festival of Genomics: A New Breed of Conference Kicks Off

Last week we attended the first-ever Festival of Genomics, a new series of meetings taking place in Boston, San Mateo, and London. This conference was held in Boston’s biggest convention center, and featured a music festival kind of approach, with four stages of concurrent sessions in addition to plenty of other activities.

The Sage Science team was out in force, and we participated in many of those activities. Our CSO Chris Boles gave a talk in the Tech Forum, sharing details of a new product in development we’re calling the SageHLS. Built to help scientists generate ultra long DNA fragments for the new breed of technologies that need them — from optical mapping to single-molecule sequencing — the SageHLS will also help streamline the library prep process. More details will be available later this year.

Another element of the circus-like atmosphere was Race the Helix, a fundraising event for the Greenwood Genetic Center in which teams have 20 minutes on a treadmill to run as far as they can. Our own Alex Vira suited up and ran with the PacBio team, winning an impressive second place in a field of competitor teams. We’re proud to have helped raise money for a good cause!


Some 1,200 people registered for the conference, and the plenary talks were frequently standing room only. Great presentations came from Ting Wu, Craig Venter, Heidi Rehm, Diana Bianchi, and a host of others. We really enjoyed the concurrent session focused on long-read sequencing that included Mike Snyder, Chad Nusbaum, Dick McCombie, and a few other terrific speakers. One of the truly unique things about the event was an evening play about clinical genomics featuring a number of brave scientists, including Eric Green, Andy Faucett, and others. Who stole the show? Naturally, it was George Church in the role of God.

The festival heads west to San Mateo this fall, with a winter performance in London. We look forward to seeing how the organizers from Front Line Genomics continue to innovate at this fun meeting!

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