APBioNet Reports on InCoB 2003 in Penang, Malaysia
by Sheila Nathan, Rahmah Mohamed and Tan Tin Wee

Over 300 participants from five continents gathered at this year's International Conference on Bioinformatics—InCoB2003 (September 8-10, 2003), the annual meeting of the Asia-Pacific Bioinformatics Network (APBioNet) held at the Shangri-la Rasa Sayang Resort in Penang, Malaysia.
Besides the remarkable turnout, which underscores the importance countries in the south-east Asian region are currently attaching to the growth and development of Bioinformatics, the meeting also attracted bioinformatics keynote speakers such as Ken Nishikawa (Japan), Allen Rodrigo (New Zealand), Jotun Hein (UK), Bai-lin Hao (China), Klaus Prank (Germany), Jingchu Luo (China) and key bioinformatics leaders from the region, including Shoba Ranganathan who serves as Vice President of APBioNet and an ISCB Board member. In addition, 20 foreign and local speakers were invited to present their latest research findings on various topics such as genome information analysis, the study of eukaryotic genomes, applications of nanotechnology, bioinformatics grid and molecular phylogenetics and evolution.

Highlights of the conference included an industry showcase of the latest technologies in high-end computing and data analysis drawing industry players such as Genvea, Bruker, Open Source Systems, Apple, IBM, HP and Sun Microsystems, as well as a Biotechnology Leaders Meeting on Bioinformatics to develop a Bioinformatics Masterplan for the ASEAN region. Sun Microsystems also released a beta version of their Sun BioBox software suite.

Professor Rahmah Mohamed of UKM, Co-Chair of the Organizing Committee, said "As a result of hosting this prestigious event, local researchers in the fields of biotechnology, mathematics, computer science and information technology and engineering were exposed to the latest findings, ideas and thinking on bioinformatics related research. The conference successfully developed a sustainable relationship between international research institutions and companies with local researchers for exploitation of ideas, expertise and collaborative research in bioinformatics related field. It has provided a platform to seed and cultivate formal government-to-government level collaboration in the advancement of bioinformatics infrastructure and human resource development in our country."

The InCoB conference series first started in Bangkok, Thailand in 2002, and it was announced that the 3rd InCoB will be hosted from September 5-8, 2004 at the Aotea Centre, Auckland, New Zealand by the Allan Wilson Centre for Molecular Ecology and Evolution (www.incob.org/).