A list of some top life sciences conferences to attend

People sitting in the crowd at a conference

Conferences sometimes might sometimes seem exhausting. It’s several straight days of networking, talks, keynotes, after-parties, after-after-parties, and so forth. But for any industry, it’s a critical part of building any new business.

That’s still true for life sciences companies. There are always broader, more widely attended conferences in addition to niche conferences that fit your specific industry. But you’ll get a lot of the same value across all of them: relationships with potential partners, access to suppliers, learning about emerging techniques and technologies, and of course networking. Each of these can drive a lot of value for your business.

Sometimes that last bit — networking — is hard to quantify. You’re just meeting people and collecting business cards, and sometimes you’ll never talk to them again. Or you could run into one of their colleagues and immediately have a common ground. Or you might get a fun story out of the conference that you could tell someone who went to build rapport. Or you could run into an attendee at a second conference, catch up, and end up striking a business deal.

If anything, we can infer the value of conferences even if it’s hard to put a dollar value next to it — they still exist, there are always new ones coming into existence, and they only grow over time. Conferences in the life sciences industry are certainly no exception, even if it’s hard to figure out exactly which conference to attend.

Here’s a short list of some of the top ones and some information about each to start your search and planning processes:

Broader life sciences conferences

JPMorgan Healthcare Conference 

When: January, 2020

Where: San Francisco, CA

One of the largest healthcare conferences in the industry. The whos who of healthcare are at this conference, though it has a bit of a reputation for being outrageously expensive. Not unlike CES or Allen & Co’s Sun Valley conference, a lot of deal talks and whispers start at this conference. More than 9,000 people attend the conference.

Bio International Convention 

When: June 8-11, 2020

Where: San Diego, CA

Another one of the largest life sciences conferences in the industry, though not quite as financially focused as the JPMorgan Healthcare Conference. Still, some of the top companies and executives will show up at this conference. Some talk about how it has more of a “laid back atmosphere.” More than 10,000 people attend the conference every year. The Bio International Convention lasts for several days.

Industry-specific life sciences conferences


When: October 1-3, 2020

Where: San Francisco, CA

Also called the Global Synthetic Technology Summit. SynBioBeta focused on biological engineering across a variety of industries. Some of those include agriculture, medicine, energy, and the production of food, consumer products, chemicals, and materials. This conference is hosted from October 1-3 in San Francisco, CA this year. 

ACMG Annual Clinical Genetics Meeting

When: March 17-21, 2020

Where: San Antonio, TX

A conference focused on the clinical applications of the latest research in genetics. This one’s geared at attracting a broad audience in the field of genetics, like researchers, clinical geneticists, lab directors, technicians, as well as those interested in applications in more extensive public health. More focused conferences tend to attract a more specific crowd, so you might get a lot of mileage out of attending something more directly relevant to your work. ACMG takes place in San Antonio, TX, from March 17-21 in 2020.

Precision Medicine World Conference

When: January 21-24, 2020

Where: Santa Clara, CA.

As its name suggests, this is focused on precision medicine — working on treatments at the genetic level. It has a variety of speakers and educational sessions on emerging technology, like in DNA sequencing, and clinical applications. Technical approaches to genetic analysis — including applications of machine learning — are ramping up. So a more targeted conference like PMWC might generate a lot of value.

MDM West 

When: February 11-13, 2020

Where: Anaheim, CA

Also called Medical Design & Manufacturing West, MDM west is a conference focused on medical devices. You’ll find a lot of suppliers showcasing technology here. So if you’re looking to get access to new devices that might help your research flow or apply some techniques you’re developing, MDM West might be a good place to start.

American Society of Clinical Oncology Annual Meeting 

When: May 29 - June 2, 2020.

Where: Chicago, IL

An oncology conference that tackles a wide variety of topics. ASCO attracts a pretty broad spectrum of attendees in the field, including medical oncologists, physicians, researchers, clinical oncologists, as well as representatives in marketing and consulting.

Molecular Med Triconference

When: March 1-4, 2020

Where: San Francisco, CA

One of the big conferences in molecular diagnostics. More than 3,000 people attend this conference, including those focused on drug discovery, development, and diagnostics.

This certainly isn’t an exhaustive list. The life sciences industry is quite broad and encompasses a lot of different topics. You’ll probably want to talk to your partners, network, customers, and others to figure out some of the best conferences to attend for your specific goals. 

Photo credit: Headway on Unsplash

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