Getting to know the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities (ABRF)

By Tanya Samazan, The Science Advisory Board contributing writer

May 4, 2023 -- The Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities (ABRF) will hold its Annual Meeting May 7 to May 10 in Boston. ABRF is a membership organization that brings together Core facilities across the U.S. and supports more than 2,400 members at over 400 institutions including organizations in government, academia, research, industry, and commercial settings. Over 50% of its members define their area of professional responsibility as either genomics or core administration.

One of the organization's most prominent undertakings is its Research Groups, each focused on a specific technology, which work to create core facilities' research standards and best practices. Current Research Groups address the following: DNA Sequencing, Genome Editing, Genomics, Metagenomics and Microbiome, Metabolomics, Proteomics, Proteome Informatics, Proteomics Standards, Flow Cytometry, Light Microscopy, and Genomics Bioinformatics. Other ABRF activities include education, career development, online communities, and regional chapters, as well as publication of the Journal of Biomolecular Techniques, which is peer reviewed.

Tanya Samazan, editor in chief of Instrument Business Outlook, a sister brand of The Science Advisor Board, spoke with Ken Schoppmann, ABRF Executive Director, about the upcoming meeting and the latest developments at the organization.

ABRF Conference

IBO: Are there any new meeting features that are being introduced at this year's conference?
Mr. Schoppmann: The 2023 Annual Meeting will be livestreamed to engage more ABRF members and other Core professionals who aren't able to attend in person. In addition, each of the 100+ posters will be accessible online for visitors to view and post questions to authors throughout the meeting.

IBO: What are some of the most pressing issues that Core labs are facing that will be addressed at the annual meeting this year?
Mr. Schoppmann: We see a convergence among technologies utilized in Core facilities, to move from a series of sequential steps to simultaneous analysis within research experiments. Helping members learn about and implement these emerging technologies will be part of several sessions at the 2023 Annual Meeting.

IBO: Is there a session that you are particularly excited about?
Mr. Schoppmann: Actually, there are two very different sessions that I will do my best to join. The first is the Impact of Cores on the Institutional Research Enterprise, led by Michael Zwick at Rutgers, who will discuss how to elevate the recognition of Cores within an institution. The other is A Duty to All Life: Creating, Preserving, and Resurrecting Species, presented by Chris Mason from Weill Cornell, a perennially popular ABRF speaker and part of the first extraterrestrial Core facility on the International Space Station. Both sessions illustrate the extraordinary impact of shared research facilities at academic institutions around the world and beyond.

ABRF Background

IBO: What are some of the ways ABRF supports its members?
Mr. Schoppmann: ABRF is a community that openly shares best practices and approaches with one another. Every day, ABRF members ask questions and receive suggestions from their peers to address common issues and needs for Core facilities. ABRF, through events and ongoing collaboration tools like the Core Community, facilitates these connections.

IBO: How does ABRF work with its Corporate Partners?
Mr. Schoppmann: Corporate Partners enable the work of ABRF members through the development and implementation of new technologies. ABRF offers a range of opportunities for Corporate Partners to engage with members, focusing on building relationships with members and sharing their scientific expertise. This includes sponsoring presentations within all of the ABRF scientific sessions, along with programs hosted by Corporate Partners to share more information and case studies on their collaborations with academic institutions.

The ABRF Meeting Exhibit Hall is a hub of activity over three days to connect attendees with new and established commercial groups who are continuously innovating tools and solutions for Core facilities.

IBO: What are some of the ways that ABRF Research Groups' studies directly benefit labs in general?
Mr. Schoppmann: Several new ABRF Research Groups projects were launched recently that ask questions to try to solve common challenges among Core facilities. The current ABRF Research agenda includes studies in Flow Cytometry, DNA Sequencing, and Genomic Bioinformatics.

The results of these studies are published in ABRF's Journal of Biomolecular Techniques (JBT) and presented at ABRF and other meetings to disseminate new information to the widest potential audience.

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