Recap: 2022 SIMB Annual Meeting in San Francisco

Posted 11/18/22 by . Filed under Featured News, News and Updates.

Fairfax, VA (November 18, 2022) – Things are starting to look more normal after the pandemic thanks to vaccines, masks, and COVID treatments that are now widely available. In that spirit, the 2022 SIMB Annual Meeting was held in-person in San Francisco, California, from August 7–10, 2022. Between the return of many SIMB members and growth from new attendees discovering the value of SIMB, the Annual Meeting was a great success and was well attended with over 500 attendees.

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This year’s meeting featured three superlative Keynote talks. Dr. Jay Keasling of UC Berkeley kicked off the meeting on Sunday with a talk titled “Refactoring Natural Product Pathways in Yeast,” sponsored by Curie Co. On Monday, we continued SIMB’s commitment to our 2018 Memorandum of Understanding with the Korean Society for Microbiology and Biotechnology (KMB), in which we exchange speakers at our respective annual meetings, with a talk from KMB President Dr. Jung-Kee Lee titled “Quorum Quenching Bacteria and their Application for Controlling Biofilm Formation.” On Tuesday, the 2022 Charles Thom Award winner Dr. Eleftherios “Terry” Papoutsakis presented his work on clostridia genetics and metabolic engineering, with emphasis recently in syntrophic co-cultures for CO2 co-utilization with biomass carbohydrates to achieve supra-physiological product yields.

This year’s program contained five topical tracks, with multiple sessions in each area. The Natural Products track featured five sessions, with foci on systems and synthetic biology, new modes of natural product activity, unusual enzymology, informatics and data science in natural products, and modern discovery of natural products.

The Metabolic Engineering track consisted of five sessions, with topics highlighting automation and machine learning, engineering for production of commodity and specialty chemicals, use of alternate feedstocks, and domesticating and onboarding non-model organisms.

The Biocatalysis track consisted of five sessions, including topics in cell-free and orthogonal chemistries, depolymerization and valorization of alternative feedstocks, enzyme engineering, biocatalysis at scale, and new-to-nature chemistries.

The Cell Culture and Fermentation track featured five sessions, with topics including scale-up and scale-down, unconventional fermentations and feedstocks, biomanufacturing of pharmaceuticals, Manufacturing 4.0, and tech transfer. Each session was well-received and highlighted excellent science and engineering being performed by members of the Society.

The Environmental track underwent a significant shift in its scope, leading to four sessions that were well-attended. The new Environmental track continues to cover traditional topics, such as biodegradation, bioremediation, and wastewater applications. A new emphasis on metal recovery and microbiomes in the natural and built environment reflects the importance of microbial communities throughout environmental applications.

This year’s program also featured four special topics sessions. Three focused on emerging areas of science and engineering, and the other focused on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI). The first highlighted cutting-edge research in animal products made by fermentation. A second special session focused on increasing biofoundry throughput while decreasing costs. A third special session focused on microbial and cell free approaches for protein secretion. The DEI session highlighted tools for dismantling white supremacy presented by the San Francisco United Way, plus a discuss about what how we can support diversity in STEM.

In addition to the excellent oral presentations, a poster session was also held on Sunday and Monday night, with 85 poster presenters in total. Posters were presented on topics from all five topical tracks. It was particularly great to see students and postdocs able to present their work to and receive direct feedback from the scientific community.

We would specifically like to thank our twelve sponsors: Applied Materials, ARPA-E, bitBiome, Corteva, Curie Co., DSM, ExxonMobil, Frances Templeton Foundation, Geno, LanzaTech, ManusBio, and Pivot Bio. Their support helped make the meeting possible. We would also like to thank the many exhibitors that displayed their newest services and equipment for us. Exhibitors included Aber Instruments, Agile BioFoundry, Biolog, Bio-Technical Resources, bitBiome, BlueSens, Global BioIngredients, Inc., Hamilton, Hiden Analytical, Igenbio, ILS Automation, Infinome Biosciences, INFORS USA, Inscripta, Kuhner Shaker, Mettler-Toledo, Oxford University Press, Roche Custom Biotech, Scientific Bioprocessing, SIMB.

It was an honor to serve as Program Chair for the 2022 SIMB Annual Meeting. I would especially like to thank the SIMB team, including Hailey Cox and Tina Hockaday, for all their assistance. This meeting could not have happened without their guidance, attention to detail, and patience. I would also like to thank each of the Program Committee members and Session Conveners, whose dedication and hard work were critical to the meeting’s success. I am already looking forward to the 2023 SIMB Annual Meeting being held July 30 – August 2 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and I welcome the new Program Chair, Dr. Aindrila Mukhopadhyay from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory.

Mark Blenner
University of Delaware
2022 Annual Meeting Program Chair

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