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Highlights from the 2019 Bio-IT World Conference & Expo

Boston, MA. April 16-18, 2019

Since its inception in 2002, the annual Bio-IT World Conference & Expo has become a premier event for showcasing the wide-array of IT and informatics applications and enabling technologies that drive biomedical research, drug discovery & development, and clinical and healthcare initiatives.

This conference brings together thousands of attendees from around the world to explore solutions from the research realm to the clinical arena. Themes discussed at this year’s conference included: data & storage management; bioinformatics; clinical research & translational informatics; pharmaceutical R&D informatics; data transfer; data computing; next-gen sequencing informatics; data visualization and exploration tools; cancer informatics; edge; software applications and services; fair data; blockchain in pharma, R&D, and healthcare; and cloud computing. In addition, due to the success of last year’s machine learning track at Bio-IT world, this year’s conference featured in-depth coverage in three emerging Artificial Intelligence (AI) areas: pharma & biotech, genomics and healthcare.

The Bio-IT Buzz

The 2019 Bio-IT World Conference & Expo in Boston, MA saw nearly 4,000 life sciences, pharmaceutical, clinical, healthcare, and IT professionals from all over the world come together to explore the latest innovations in data and computing to advance medicine. This year’s conference had 17 tracks focusing on advancing science through data and computing, keynote speakers, 14 pre-conference workshops, 280+ technology and scientific presentations, industry awards and more.

Artificial Intelligence Tracks

There was much interest amongst attendees in the Artificial Intelligence tracks which explored how to utilize AI (machine learning) to improve clinical care and hospital operations, genomics medicine and research, and drug discovery efforts for pharmaceutical and biotech companies.  There were a number of interesting sessions in this track that explored these topics.

Holger Fröhlich, PhD, Director and Head of Data Science Enablement at UCB BioSciences GmbH, gave a presentation entitled From Hype to Reality: Data Science Enabling Personalized Medicine. This session explored the potential of the latest data science approaches to help scientists discover disease or drug response pathways and identify personalized and focused treatments and cures. Dr. Fröhlich also discussed the challenges inherent in ‘big data’ and machine learning-based solutions and highlighted directions that may help to overcome them in the future.

Vitaly Herasevich, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Anesthesiology and Medicine at the Mayo Clinic gave an important presentation entitled How to Evaluate Artificial Intelligence in Clinical Care in which he discussed how governments and clinical providers are investing billions of dollars in health information technologies (HIT) in the expectation that the investment will translate into healthier patients experiencing better care at lower cost. As innovative new technologies are developed, Dr. Herasevich argued for a systematic approach to the evaluation of technology in healthcare so as to enable effective discernment between useful innovation and clever marketing.

Another interesting session in the AI tracks was entitled Deep Learning for Precision Medicine: Emerging Technology, Trends, and Potential. In this talk, Gaurav Kaushik, Co-Founder of Cascade Bio, Inc., provided an overview of emerging deep learning methods and discussed opportunities for individuals to leverage deep learning across various aspects of precision medicine (e.g., variant calling, clinical trial recruitment, information synthesis and recall). The talk also delved into specific architectures and practical applications, along with trends to watch in the near future.

Cloud Computing Track

Another track that generated significant interest among attendees was Cloud Computing. This track explored the rapid growth and maturation of cloud computing, as well as evolving provider and user experiences.

An interesting presentation in this track was given by Dianne Pacheco and Sandeep Namburi from The Jackson Laboratory. In Avoiding Storms: Our Journey to Using Cloud Platforms for Research, Dianne and Sandeep shared their seven-month success story at Jackson Laboratory in transitioning from inconsistent workflows to reproducible processes in the cloud utilizing both internal and external systems for research support. Their approach involved developing a Cloud Charter to get all stakeholders on the same page, forming a Cloud Steering Committee with governance responsibilities, and creating a Core Team responsible for architecture and technical decisions.

Data Transfer Track

Another track that captivated much interest amongst attendees was the Data Transfer track. This track addressed the need for life science companies to expand flexibility and reliability, as well as speed, security and scalability, to data migration/transfer activities. Case studies were used to highlight hardware and software enterprise data management solutions that facilitate high-speed data transfer to enable productivity and foster collaboration.

In Data Centralization for Any Lab, Any Equipment, Any Software, Charles Fracchia of BioBright and Jarrod Medeiros of Casma Therapeutics shared concrete use-cases for how to effectively migrate to a data-centric workflow that takes advantage of cloud storage and analytics. The central premise was that how carefully designed software can make data available seamlessly, removing the need for scientists to dig through disparate systems to find what they need and analyze it. Attendees were given a five step protocol to help plan and evaluate their approach to cloud data management.

Astrix Workshops at the Bio-IT World Conference & Expo

As part of our efforts to support the mission of the Bio-IT Conference & Expo, Astrix conducted two pre-conference technology workshops this year.

  • Lab Informatics: An Insider’s Guide to Project Success by Randy Hice, Astrix Managing Director
  • Digital Data Strategy for the Lab by Dave Dorsett, Principle Software Architect

Randy Hice’s workshop, Lab Informatics: An Insider’s Guide to Project Success, brought together many attendees seeking to learn how to best apply Business Process Analysis (BPA) to ensure the success of their laboratory informatics projects. Randy shared how to develop both current state and optimized future state workflow diagrams, along with how to derive system requirements from workflow maps. The importance of developing requirements at the right level was emphasized. Additionally, how to utilize these requirements to select the best system to generate business value for your organization was discussed. Randy also delved into how to develop an effective Project Plan with proper resource allocation, and advanced prioritization, phasing, sandboxing, and roll out strategies.

In Digital Data Strategy for the Lab, Dave Dorsett discussed approaches to a achieving a holistic digital strategy for the lab with more than 30 attendees. Dave emphasized the benefits of digitization in the lab and shared that any successful data strategy must encompass the relationships between systems and the lifecycle of data. Also discussed were some of the core challenges with digitization and best practices to overcome them. Representative initiatives and IT roadmaps were also discussed emphasizing a pragmatic and actionable point of view.


The 2019 Bio-IT World Conference & Expo was a great success. This event continues to be an excellent venue for bringing together innovative people from all areas of life sciences for expert commentary and industry insight, and Astrix looks forward to continuing to contribute to the conversation on the IT innovations that best support the Life Sciences industry from the research realm to the clinical arena.

Astrix specializes in supporting the Life Sciences sector with laboratory informatics strategic planning, vendor selection, development, implementation, integration, managed services and scientific staffing. Our experienced professionals have the skills and expertise necessary to architect, implement, integrate and support best in class solutions for your organization’s laboratory environment. If you would like to have an initial, no obligations consultation with an Astrix informatics expert to discuss your laboratory informatics strategy or any challenges that you are experiencing in this area, please feel free to contact us.