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Sign of the Times: Missing US user group meetings

Yesterday, I noticed that the application vendors of modeling programs that I use aren’t having as many user group meetings (UGM) in the US as they have in the previous two decades.  One of them is suspending its US UGM for 2013.  One other seems to have decided to display at ACS (American Chemical Society) conferences around the country, and a third says it is trimming back on the ACS meetings displays for a UGM in Montreal.

However, almost all of them are continuing to have UGMs in Europe, the Netherlands and Switzerland, specifically.  The Netherlands seems to be a convenient location for a couple UGMs.  It would be easy train rides for French and German scientists, and a channel crossing for the Brits.

Other than that, as business dries up in the US, there are fewer reasons to spend a lot of money on hotel conference facilities.  Not only are they not profitable for the vendors, fewer scientists can get the money to go.  So, that means that you’re going to have to be a senior level person, who probably hasn’t docked a protein in 10 years, to attend a  European UGM.  I predict lots of schmoozing, networking and license negotiations over wine and pate.  The rest of you, get back to work and just forget about talking to your peers.

Oh, and Astra-Zeneca laid off last week and decided to close a couple more American sites.  Couple that with the effects of the sequestration on grant approvals that I have heard about, and we have the makings for a disaster in the scientific infrastructure for generations to come.