American Chemical Society Conference: The Story of a Fruitful Trip
Bioinformatics and chemoinformatics in San Diego
The conferences, which representatives of our company usually attend, are mostly related to programming or blockchain. The ACS Conference organized in San Diego was the first life-science one we participated in. This was possible thanks to the subsidy obtained from the Go to Brand program, which aims to promote Polish brands abroad.
Technologies of the future
As I have already mentioned, going to the ACS conference was a fulfillment of my professional dreams. Unfortunately, I was not able to attend all the lectures because they overlapped, but the ones I attended really inspired me. Right after I got back, I bought some courses and started studying. Particularly interesting for me were the topics related to drug design and modeling of the interaction of proteins with drugs using enormous chemical libraries.
Computer instead of a test tube
To put it simply, development of new drugs consists of searching for molecules that interact with proteins, and thus block some other processes. For instance a protein that is used in the metabolic cycle of a cancer cell, so the cell dies of starvation. In the past these interactions were manually tested, meaning that the substances and proteins were placed in a test tube and results were observed. It was a very time-consuming and expensive process, which additionally had its limitations – you have to not only take care of the reagents, store them in the right conditions and keep an eye on the expiration dates, but during the tests you are limited only to the substances that you have in the lab.
Thanks to chemoinformatics, it is now possible to simulate these interactions on a computer. This is a solution that has been employed for years, but has become much more effective recently. Until recently a library containing a million solutions was impressive but today such libraries have billions of samples. In addition, during the process, we can also learn how a given substance is metabolized, i.e. whether it will be toxic to the body or not. All this is possible thanks to better algorithms, faster computers, a better understanding of artificial intelligence and, of course, the work of outstanding specialists. It is precisely such lectures and solutions that inspire me to work and give my actions a direction.
Purposes of the trip
Before leaving, we set ourselves two main goals. The first was to learn what is currently happening in the world of science and industry, what topics are interesting, what ideas are worth developing. If, sooner or later, we would like to create software specifically for customers who participate in the ACS conference, and this is our plan, we need to know their expectations and needs well. The second goal, although no less important, was to show the world that in Poland there is a company called Code Poets, which has specialists who not only know how to program, but also have extensive specialized knowledge, so as a company we are able to provide truly comprehensive services.
What the industry doesn’t know about (yet)
One of the things that surprised me during the conference was the lack of knowledge about solutions available on the market. People we talked with about our company, often did not realize that there are specialized software houses that hire specialists or entire qualified teams which will not only deal with development, but also provide specialized knowledge. I'm not surprised they haven't heard about Code Poets, because we've only started building brand awareness abroad. But the fact that they were not aware of the existence of such companies at all, was quite shocking. As a result, the employees sent by the companies to the conference were not capable of starting such business relations. That’s why, during the conference, we spent time not only acquiring new knowledge, but also explaining our services in detail and networking.
It's all about trust (and advanced security)
The fact that our customers include Merck Group, for which we worked on Synthia, and L7 Informatics, can undoubtedly help us in attracting new customers from the industry. Potential customers are aware that we had to undergo thorough internal audits and a number of safety trainings before establishing cooperation. They can see that we are trusted by recognizable companies, so they will be more willing to familiarize themselves with our offer. In the end, we understand that secrets related to intellectual property make internal processes take a long time and decisions are made slowly. For this reason, I believe that, although it has been a while since the conference, we may still be contacted by a prospective client we met in San Diego – perhaps a partnership is being considered somewhere right now, but it takes time.
As I mentioned, we are very satisfied with the conference. First of all, we were able to talk about the services offered by Code Poets and interest the representatives of companies that were in San Diego in them.
In addition to establishing new business relations, I also remember the meeting with representatives of Merck Group very well – although there were no people with whom we worked directly on Synthia, it was nice to say hello and have a word. After the conference, we decided to spend a week in Austin, where L7 has its HQ. Thanks to this, we were able to meet the team we work with on a daily basis and plan the work for at least half a year ahead. Although I personally appreciate the advantages of working remotely, I think that the opportunity to work side by side, even for a few days, will benefit our mutual relations in the future. In addition to this visit, we met with a client with whom we are soon going to start working officially. So I can safely say that the trip turned out to be a success in many fields.
It's not only about science
The trip was very intense, because the conference lasted all day long, so there was not much time to explore. However, at the end of each day, together with Kasia Rzęsikowska, my colleague and travel companion, we could not refuse ourselves a visit to a local restaurant and taste American food – from delicious burgers and shrimp tacos, to pop tarts and mac&cheese bought in the night shops. We had a full culinary experience of American cuisine. Despite the busy schedule, we managed to visit the zoo in San Diego, which made a huge impression on me due to the variety of animals and their location (division of the zoo into biomes), as well as the USS Midway aircraft carrier, that was converted into a museum, where you can, among other things, sit in a helicopter, in which, the participants of the Apollo mission sat after returning to Earth.
Plans for the future
The trip to the conference turned out to be a success, so we would like it not to be the first and last time. My personal dream is to go to ACS one day and present something that we have managed to create together. In the meantime we are concentrating on developing our services, which – in the opinion of the people we spoke with – are getting positive opinions. What undoubtedly makes Codepoets stand out is the fact that we work with developers who are both highly experienced in the IT operations and have vast specialist knowledge in the fields of biology and chemistry. By combining these two areas we are able to thoroughly answer our clients’ needs.