The International Chromosome Conference, with diverse themes from genomic medicine and plant breeding to systems biology and “chromonomics”, is meeting in Manchester. About 300 people are discussing the wide range of chromosome research, and many papers have been emphasizing new results arising from rapid changes in technology, particularly but not exclusively light microscopy, where the series of conferences have followed the move to fluorescence microscopes, then immunocytochemistry and in situ hybridization, and now the high resolution approaches.
The conference series was started by CD Darlington (subject of my short biography in press in Encyclopaedia of Genetics) back in 1964. The integration of chromosomes with DNA sequence, the importance of RNA in regulation, the roles of proteins, and the functional analyses – always asking why and how and building on detailed data – would certainly have been welcomed by Darlington. Notably, though, some questions have remained constant through the last 20 years. In particular, sessions of the first day about nuclear and chromosomal architecture, DNA replication, and then onto centromeres have been steady stories of progress, while other areas have developed from nothing.
“Chromosomes Today” was the title of a series of books arising from these International Chromosome Conferences, but, as Malcolm Ferguson-Smith pointed out, publication delays invariably meant that the published volume was “Chromosomes Yesterday”; while serving some useful purpose as a repository of failed experiments, I certainly do not mourn the passing of expensive and dated conference proceedings at this or other conferences! But every one of the talks so far, and the posters I have hardly started on studying, show the liveliness of the field of chromosome research today.
I have put together the tweets from the first day in a Storify article –http://storify.com/pathh1/18th-international-chromosome-conference-mancheste . Unfortunately, though, social media activity is very limited here at #icc18, despite the good wi-fi in the Conference Centre (and even the odd power socket in the theatre) – only @dicentric and I seem to be actively tweeting. Maybe people need to think more about dissemination in the 21st century. I certainly don’t have time to scan the 800 Journals which carry research of interest to me, nor (my blog posts notwithstanding) to attend all the conferences I would like to. Twitter and the blogs give me a real insight into what is happening and what is new; I probably get 30% of my new ideas through these routes today. I can do little more than make a longish quotation from Enrica Porcari “‘Do blogs lead to increased dissemination of research papers?’ask WorldBank researchers” : “For years, we have been advocating the use of social media to inform as broad an audience as possible of our research and also to get our research outputs into the hands of people who can make them travel even further across their own communication networks and/or apply them to their own work. Nonetheless, not everyone understands the value of social media… It usually takes time for all great inventions and innovations to become mainstream. Alexander Graham Bell’s telephone took a while to catch on, as did cell phones and email. I wonder how we could possibly cope now without email or mobile communication devices. As such, I believe it will just be a matter of time before everyone realizes that social media has an important role to play in research.”
Meanwhile, I’m trying now to adopt Tim Entwistle’s multitasking – Storify to bring together the #ICC18 posts, twitter and still some e-mail Table of Contents alerts giving me more and interesting papers I should be reading, some of which I re-tweet, others which go on to Scoop.it, and others I write to the authors to try to take follow-up actions. This morning, there is a detailed paper in GRACE, Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution, about compact spike morphology genes – can their homologues be found in the Panicum miliaceumwe are working with, but with a very loose panicle and then I’m also writing the blog, listening to the great EMBO plenary talk by Bill Earnshaw, thinking of consequences for my work, and tweeting the key points under #icc18. Chromosomes and chromosome engineering has a huge future!
Updates 1nd September 2011 – Darlington Link works above.
Days 2 and 3 now on Storify http://storify.com/pathh1/international-chromosome-conference-18-days-2-and-
And links to my own talk at the International Chromosome Conference ICC: links are given from my website http://www.molcyt.com OR directly to the 4Mb download: http://www.le.ac.uk/biology/phh4/public/HeslopHarrison_ICC18.pdf