Just a few quick thoughts on RSC BMCS Fragments 2009, which I had the pleasure of attending at AstraZeneca’s beautiful new conference center in Alderley Park, UK. The quality of the talks and posters was very high, and in many cases speakers presented unpublished and exciting research, so I don’t want to steal their thunder here (though see the FBDD-Lit blog for some nice summaries).
One striking observation was the number of speakers from big pharma. Of the 16 oral presentations, almost a third were from AstraZeneca, Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline, or F Hoffmann-La Roche. Biotech represented about half the talks, with the remainder from academia.
Attendees were similarly diverse, both by employer as well as geography. Besides the UK and USA, many European countries were represented, as were China, Japan, and Korea. I remember recently it was rare to find anyone exploring fragments outside of the US and the UK.
Rod Hubbard observed in his closing talk that just a few years ago fragment-based drug discovery was seen as the domain of “exotic eccentrics.” No longer. The concept has gone mainstream, there has been a convergence as to the methods (particularly a rapid adoption of surface plasmon resonance), and large pharmaceutical companies are investing substantial resources in FBDD. I think the field can look forward to a wealth of new discoveries.
And for those of you who missed it, feedback was sufficiently positive that there will likely be a sequel: Fragments 2011.