Washington, D.C. to Host World’s Largest Biotech Gathering

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 5, 2003) — More than 15,000 biotechnology industry executives, scientists, legislators, regulatory officials and journalists are expected to attend BIO 2003 — the Biotechnology Industry Organization’s (BIO’s) annual convention and exhibition at the new Washington, D.C. convention center, June 22-25.

BIO 2003 is expected to be the largest biotechnology event to date and will feature 25 tracks of programming, including 196 sessions on policy, business development, science and regulatory affairs and forums on bioethics, global health and patient advocacy.

The convention will start Saturday, June 21 with a free two-day, interactive HealthFest on the National Mall designed to encourage healthy living while demonstrating to the public how biotechnology affects their lives and sharing the latest biomedical research on new therapies and cures and the range of local health services that are available.

The event will feature Washington Wizards basketball great and diabetes prevention advocate Jerry Stackhouse, four mobile bioscience educational laboratories, a demonstration of how to prepare wholesome and healthy dishes by the Food Network’s “Cooking Thin” host Kathleen Daelemans, and NASA’s international space station trailer exhibit.

A key theme of BIO 2003 will be how biotechnology touches our lives. On the health-care front, more than 325 million people worldwide have been helped by the more than 150 new drugs and vaccines produced by biotechnology. Many of those drugs and vaccines are designed to treat such serious diseases as leukemia, breast cancer, rheumatoid arthritis, diabetes and multiple sclerosis. Today, more than 370 biotechnology medicines are in late-stage clinical development for osteoporosis, lupus, stroke, HIV, and cystic fibrosis.

While most people identify biotechnology with medical innovation, it is also used to improve our daily lives in a number of other ways. For example, many people may not know that the cornflakes eaten for breakfast this morning were developed from corn that is resistant to insects and disease, thanks to biotechnology processes. Biotech enzymes are used to remove lactose from milk to help people who are lactose intolerant and are used in approximately 60 percent of hard-cheese products. In fact, more than 70 percent of the processed foods in the supermarket contain ingredients improved through biotechnology.

Every time a load of laundry is washed, biotech-developed detergent enzymes are being used to remove deep stains. Those enzymes have replaced the phosphates that used to be a serious pollutant of U.S. rivers and streams. And now new fuels like “biodiesel” and bioethanol derived from oils from soybeans and corn are entering the market.

BIO’s annual meeting and convention has grown tenfold since the organization’s formation in 1993, with 47 percent of the growth in attendance occurring in the past few years. The meeting has also become global in scope; BIO 2002, which was held in Toronto, Canada, featured attendees from 52 countries and marked the first time that U.S. registrants were a minority at the meeting. Because the annual meeting will be held in Washington, the seat of the U.S. government, BIO 2003 will feature speakers from Capitol Hill and the regulatory arena.

As many as 500 journalists from around the world are expected to attend BIO 2003, and BIO will provide a working media room, a TV studio and two press conference rooms. Although registration for approved, credentialed media is complimentary, reporters should register online as soon as possible at For complete program and registration information, visit the BIO 2003 Web site at

BIO represents more than 1,000 biotechnology companies, academic institutions, state biotechnology centers and related organizations in all 50 U.S. states and 33 other nations. BIO members are involved in the research and development of health-care, agricultural, industrial and environmental biotechnology products.