Dr Grant January of the University of Plymouth shares his experience attending the genome mining conference organized by the Novo Nordisk Foundation.

Working in the field of Natural Product (NP) Discovery is immensely supported by computational biology approaches to identify, mine, and analyse microbial biosynthetic gene clusters (BGCs). These BGCs encode for secondary metabolites, many of which are infamous NPs including antibiotic and anticancer drugs. The bioinformatic tools and approaches used in the field are rapidly changing and advancing with the technology required to run and process these data.

I was fortunate enough to be accepted as a delegate at the Natural Products (Meta) Genome Mining Conference, in Copenhagen, Denmark at the start of summer. At the Conference, I got to learn and engage with experts in the field of NP Discovery. The sessions at the Conference included ‘Genome Mining tools’, ‘Genome Mining databases’, ‘From genes to molecules’, and ‘Metagenome mining’. These sessions covered talks from the fields of metabolomics, (meta) genome mining, cheminformatics, synthetic biology, chemical ecology, bioinformatics and much more! I have been fortunate enough to have done a PhD in Marine biodiscovery and I found that the research presented was of the highest quality I’ve seen at an international conference level, and not only were the presenters and delegates on the forefront of their respective fields, but all imparted useful advice and comments on the research I presented. It has been three years since I last attended a face-to-face conference and I found it valuable to connect, network and discuss research and life with colleagues and old friends. Personally, I have benefitted by attending this conference as I learnt about new bioinformatic tools and strategies for genome mining, including tools for linking genes to metabolites, tools for whole genome BGC phylogeny, criteria for triaging bioactive producer strains about future workshops, conferences and networking opportunities in NP discovery.

With that said, I would like to thank the Novo Nordisk Foundation and ALL organisers involved in the #naturalproducts #genomemining conference, which was held in beautiful Copenhagen, Denmark! #NPGM2022

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