Huntsville BioDefense Symposium a success for organizers, attendees alike

HudsonAlpha’s first BioDefense Symposium demonstrated Huntsville’s ability to attract an impressive and diverse crowd for relevant and important issues facing our nation.  The event, held October 19 and 20 at the Jackson Center, shed light on biological threats and how biotech and defense industries can work together for our nation’s security.

Approximately 160 people registered for the event.  There were a host of speakers from the biotech and defense worlds, including the Air Force Research Laboratory, CFDRC, Diatherix, GeneCapture, HudsonAlpha,  Federal Bureau of Investigation, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Kansas State University and U.S. Army Research Laboratory.

Keynote speaker Dr. Jerry Jaax, associate vice provost for research and compliance and university veterinarian at KSU, explained the high likelihood of a biological threat on U.S. soil and the nation’s lack of preparation for such an event. 

"That was very sobering for everyone" said Lynn Buckle, president of Concero Scientific and one of the symposium’s organizers.

Organizers say the event also revealed a wide range of opportunities for biotech and defense companies in the area to combine their expertise.  

"I was highly satisfied with the degree of networking that took place," Buckle added.  "Attendees were very excited about the contacts they made, and hopeful these leads might result in collaborations with government agencies and other businesses, enabling them to apply their technologies to both the warfighter and homeland security."

While a number of participants came from North Alabama, the symposium drew in dozens of professionals from across the U.S., including Massachusetts, Kansas and Florida.  Whether they drove a few miles or flew hundreds, participants said the symposium was an eye-opening and beneficial experience.

"I think overall the conference provided solid, detailed information on biodefense," said Malinda Wilson Westbrook, Ph.D., assistant professor of chemistry at Alabama A&M University.  "The symposium provided information that clearly explained the multidisciplinary approach to protecting our country from biological threats.  This conference also provided a great networking opportunity for representatives from AAMU, as we were able to see what else is happening in the scientific community–locally and nationally."
"The variety, range and depth of subjects were fantastic for continuing education and to enliven collaboration," said Guy Clark, senior field research analyst at MEDCAP International in Miami.  "In development of technology and its application we recognize more than ever that  concepts such as integration, common language, cultural-sensitivity, social-propriety, horizontal frameworks and interdisciplinary approaches build synergy; more so, it is the economical and responsible approach."

SAIC, the HudsonAlpha Institute for Biotechnology and the Partnership for Biotechnology Research were the symposium’s presenting sponsors. CFDRC, Concero Scientific, GeneCapture, Kailos Genetics and Radiance Technologies were the event’s supporting sponsors.