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NCBioType: Sequestered Speaker Mess Missed

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Sequester schmester.

Featured speaker Joseph DeSimone, Ph.D., and master of ceremonies Margaret Lowman, Ph.D., lead the Q&A session with keynote speaker Walter Schaffer, Ph.D., who banters with the NCBiotech audience from his NIH office in Washington, D.C.

The federal government’s automatic spending cuts that went into effect March 1 could have dropped a big lug on a gathering of North Carolina’s life-science community.

The federal budget slash almost upended a March 20 keynote speech at the long-planned inaugural Exchange Group Summit organized by the North Carolina Biotechnology Center.

Days before the event, the scheduled keynote speaker, Walter (Wally) Schaffer, Ph.D., senior scientific advisor for extramural research with the National Institutes of Health in Washington, D.C., notified the NCBiotech organizers he wouldn’t be able to travel to North Carolina for the event after all.

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction failed reach agreement on $1.2 trillion in cuts to federal spending, which triggered the automatic cuts known as sequestration. Congress and President Obama couldn’t agree on a plan to stop the cuts. As a result, agencies like NIH are reducing travel, trimming programs and even furloughing employees to reduce their spending.

Fortunately, the Biotech Center’s Hamner Conference Center was staffed and equipped to save the day. More than 100 Summit registrants from 23 NCBiotech-supported Intellectual and Regional Exchange Groups would still get to see and hear Schaffer, and talk with him in real time.

Bill Torkewitz, CTS, audio visual specialist for the Biotech Center’s conference center, had already been arranging a live broadcast of the event to other in-state sites where participants were planning to gather, including several in Chapel Hill and one in Winston-Salem.

Torkewitz contacted Schaffer and set up the two-way live video program, allowing the speaker’s face and presentation slides to be projected on two large screens in the NCBiotech auditorium. Audience members were able to ask questions afterward.

Bill Torkewitz, CTS

Torkewitz and colleagues at the Hamner Conference Center arrange hundreds of such connections a year, enabling people from around the world to “meet” at the Biotech Center in Research Triangle Park.

It’s just one of the many ways NCBiotech adds value to North Carolina’s job-creating life-science community.

If you're among the thousands who have been directly helped by the Biotech Center, please sign in and comment on this blog (below) to share your experience.

To find out how the Hamner Conference Center, located at the North Carolina Biotechnology Center in R.T.P. can help make your next event a success.

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