The 62nd Annual Meeting of the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology was held Aug. 12-16, 2012, at the Washington Hilton in Washington, DC. 725 people registered for the meeting. Excluding exhibitors, over 600 attended the scientific sessions. This meeting was a fabulous opportunity for researchers in various fields of industrial microbiology to meet and learn the newest advances in the field from both academia and industry. Aside from the formal presentations and posters, there was plenty of opportunity to meet colleagues for informal ad-hoc discussions.

The program commenced Sunday evening with a keynote presentation by Professor Jay Keasling, describing advances made at the Joint BioEnergy Institute (JBEI) on the engineering of plants and microbes for the production of next-generation biofuels from cellulosic materials. This was followed by the first of two poster sessions, where a combined total of 170 posters were exhibited. During the remainder of the conference oral presentation sessions were held in the core areas of Metabolic Engineering, Fermentation and Cell Culture, Natural Products, Biocatalysis, and Environmental Microbiology. Many of the sessions were cross-functional, bringing people together from different disciplines that use a similar technology or approach to address problems in their respective area of research. Among the most popular sessions were biofuels and biochemicals, adaptive evolution in fermentation, and natural product synthesis, structure, and function. New topic areas this year included solid-state fermentation, microbial hydrogen production, metabolic engineering of unconventional organisms, and microbial fuel cells. Special sessions were also held to highlight new technologies with broad application to industrial microbiology and biotechnology: next-generation sequencing, synthetic biology, RNA-based tools, and systems biology.

The conference format was changed slightly from previous years, in that each track only had 5 sessions as opposed to 7, bringing the total number of sessions down from 42 to 32 (including special sessions). The objective of this was to reduce redundancy in presentation topics, reduce scheduling conflicts, increase the attendance at each talk, and increase the overall scientific quality of the meeting. An informal survey of attendees indicated a favorable opinion of the scientific quality of the presentations, and that scheduling conflicts of sessions with similar interest areas were reduced but not completely eliminated. The student oral presentation session was moved to Tuesday late afternoon, to reduce the amount of overlap with other sessions. This resulted in good attendance for the student talks. Finally, the inaugural Women in SIMB session was held to acknowledge the accomplishments of women throughout the history of the Society and to address the challenges of bringing more women into scientific fields.

The conference banquet was held Tuesday evening. Several awards were given, including the student poster and presentation awards renamed in honor of Carol Litchfield. The outgoing SIMB board members were also acknowledged, and the incoming members recognized. The banquet speaker was Dr. Geoff Duyk of TPG Biotech, who discussed the challenges of investment in the biofuels and green technology sector relative to the pharmaceutical and information technology industries. The industrial award lecture was given on Monday afternoon by Raghavan Venkat of Medimmune, and the Charles Thom award lecture on Thursday afternoon by Professor Sang Yup Lee of KAIST. Professor Lee described advances in his laboratory towards the production of a variety of intermediate chemical building blocks by microbial fermentation. Finally, on the lighter side of things, many dedicated runners woke up early for the 5k on Tuesday morning despite the weather.

The exhibit hall was sold out with 54 paid booths, giving increased revenue over prior years. There were several new vendors, particularly in the field of synthetic biology tools. Although we lost one major sponsor, some new sponsors helped bring the sponsorship total to $22,000. With the exhibitors, sponsors and high attendance, the meeting was a financial success for SIMB.

Annual Meeting Program Chair
-Steve Van Dien, Genomatica

Join SIMB in October 2012 for the Recent Advances in Microbial Control (RAMC). The meeting is a forum for established industry leaders, entrepreneurs, academics and regulators to discuss new technologies and recent developments in controlling microbial activity in various applications. See full meeting schedule.

Descriptions for 3 of the session topics:

Recent Developments in Food Safety

In recent times many food recalls, precipitated by the detection of pathogens in various meat and produce products, have highlighted the need for superior interventions and early detection of responsible microbes. This session will highlight the impact of new and impending changes to regulations and an assessment of the ability of current intervention practices to meet these changes, with special focus on meat and poultry processing industries. New developments presented will highlight the evolution of microbial detection methods and new opportunities for rapid methods of identification of pathogens. An exciting and emerging new technology that addresses the industry’s unmet needs with use of bacteriophages in specific foods and food processing settings, will round up this session.


Devices that come in contact with humans, whether they be catheters, or stents, or intraocular lenses, or prosthetics or contact lenses or cosmetics and personal hygiene represent a special relationship, and a need for microbial control. This special relationship also applies to animals. The need for devices that exhibit microbial control properties in this area is well documented. The costs and resources required to obtain regulatory approval have continued to increase, and the likelihood of new control agents is in many cases not considered to be practical.

Emerging Technologies

New approaches and solutions for both detection of microorganisms and control of microorganisms are needed in the arsenal for industrial applications. Advances in fields such as genomics, microfludics and nanomaterials have enabled some of these novel technologies. In this session you will hear advances in rapid detection using genomics and microfluidics, non-chemical microbial control, antimicrobial nanocomposite films, and antimicrobial peptides as well as using microorganisms for microbial control.

Just Announced: SIMB is pleased to welcome Dr. Ruth Shuman, National Science Foundation Program Director for the Biology and Chemical Technologies (BC) Cluster in the SBIR/STTR Program. Dr. Shuman will attend the meeting on Wednesday, August 15 and will meet with attendees interested in finding out more about the SBIR/STTR Program and funding opportunities.

Appointments will be scheduled for ten minutes each, beginning at 9:00 am on Wednesday, August 15. Attendees are encouraged to sign up at the SIMB registration desk as soon as possible as time slots are limited.

An excellent meeting has been planned for SIMB’s 62nd Annual Meeting. Register today.

About Dr. Ruth Shuman

Ruth Shuman joined the National Science Foundation in August 2009. She is currently serving as Program Director for the Biology and Chemical Technologies (BC) Cluster in the SBIR/STTR Program, and was recently named Cluster Leader. Formerly, she was the founder, president, and CEO of a successful venture-backed life science company, Gentra Systems, Inc., that developed, manufactured, and sold products for genetic testing and research to clinical and research laboratories worldwide. Following Gentra’s acquisition, she held various consulting/advisory positions with start-up companies, and was CEO-In-Residence for Life Science with the University of Minnesota’s Venture Center evaluating the business potential of University-developed technology. Ruth began her career as a faculty member at North Carolina State University, and was a pioneer in the development of gene transfer and genetic engineering technology. She holds a Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota in the area of Genetics and Cell Biology.

About the Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) And Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Program

NSF’s SBIR and STTR programs play a key role in supporting small businesses to move inventions from ideas to commercialization. This funding may be viewed as a ‘pre-seed’ investment in the commercialization spectrum. By providing grant money, the program provides equity-free financial support to small businesses with innovative ideas. NSF’s program differs from those of other agencies as its mentoring and bridge-building efforts specifically encourage development of entrepreneurial skills, such as business development and raising capital, so necessary to achieve commercialization of the technology.

Objectives and Funding Criteria of the SBIR/STTR Program
The main objectives of the SBIR/STTR Program are to stimulate technological innovation and increase private sector commercialization of new technologies. The innovation must be high-risk while demonstrating high-payback and commercial potential. NSF does not fund incremental optimization of existing products or processes or modification to broaden the scope of a product. In addition, NSF favors companies that demonstrate strategic partnerships with research collaborators, commercial partners, customers, and equity investors.

Current Funding Opportunities:
STTR is a competitive program that provides funding for small business and nonprofit research institution partners. The goal of the STTR program is to facilitate the transfer of the technology from the laboratory to the marketplace by combining the strengths of small business and research institutions.

The next STTR Topic is entitled Enhancing the Bioeconomy using emerging Biological Technologies (EBBT). Proposals submitted to this solicitation must utilize emerging biologically-based technologies such as synthetic biology, systems biology, metabolic engineering, proteomics, bioinformatics, and computational biology. Proposals must address one of the following subtopics: biomedical applications, sustainable agriculture applications, biosensing applications, biomanufacturing applications, and advanced life science tools.

SBIR is a competitive program that provides funding to small businesses to conduct early-stage research of a technology that will lead to the development of a product, process, or service. NSF has formulated broad solicitation topics for SBIR. The Biological and Chemical Technologies (BC) topic area includes subtopics in Synthetic Biology and Metabolic Engineering, Fermentation and Cell Culture Technologies, and Computational Biology and Bioinformatics.

I-Corps is a new program to broaden the impact of NSF-funded, basic-research projects by preparing scientists and engineers to focus beyond the laboratory. It provides funding for entrepreneurial/commercial training of academic researchers that have received NSF funding and have an interest in commercializing their technology.

NSF’s SBIR/STTR Program Website
NSF’s I-Corps Program Website

Join us for the 2012 SIMB Annual Meeting, Aug. 12-16, 2012, in Washington, DC. View the full meeting schedule. Register online today!

Just Announced: SIMB is pleased to welcome Dr. Ruth Shuman, National Science Foundation Program Director for the Biology and Chemical Technologies (BC) Cluster in the SBIR/STTR Program. Dr. Shuman will attend the meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 15 & will meet with attendees interested in finding out more about the SBIR/STTR Program and funding opportunities. Appointments will be scheduled for 10 minutes each, beginning at 9:00 am on Aug. 15. Learn more.

Expo Sold Out! See who’s exhibiting at the 2012 SIMB Annual Meeting. Also, view the exhibitor showcase schedule.

Jay Keasling - Annual Meeting 2012 KeynoteOn Sunday, August 12th at 5 pm, keynote speaker, Jay Keasling, Hubbard Howe Distinguished Professor of Biochemical Engineering, University of California, Berkeley will discuss “Synthetic Biology for Synthetic Fuels”. Learn more.

Two pre-meeting scientific workshops. A few seats also available for 2 full-day scientific workshops on Sunday, August 12. Learn more, reserve a spot today.

Job Fair, August 13. Interesting in having a table at the Job Fair on Monday, August 13th? Join Solazyme and the SIMB Placement Service.

SIMB Society Award Winners. Awards will be presented during the banquet at the SIMB Annual Meeting, Tuesday evening, August 14. The Thom Award will be presented on Thursday, August 16, following the lecture at 1 pm. Learn about the winners.

Keep up with SIMB Annual Meeting news. Follow us on Twitter.

You are invited to participate in the 62nd Annual Meeting of the Society for Industrial Microbiology and Biotechnology to be held Aug. 12-16, 2012, in Washington, DC.

Top 3 reasons to attend the 2012 SIMB Annual Meeting:

Early bird expires on Monday, July 9th. Register today & save!

Interesting in having a table at the Job Fair on Monday, August 13th? Register your table by Friday, July 6th.

Visit the Annual Meeting web site for up-to-date info.