The Conferences have been organized around a variety of formats intended to maximize the flow of information between participants (for organizational details see: SNIP Meeting Committee Guidelines of Operation). The basic formula includes 5-6 symposia, each organized around a central theme selected by the Conference Committee and suggestions obtained from the evaluation forms filled out at the previous meeting. Chairs from the appropriate area are selected by the Conference Committee; and then the Chairs, in conjunction with the Conference Committee and the Executive Board, select a Symposium Lecturer to give a principal address of 35-60 minutes on the symposium topic. Additional speakers for each session are chosen from abstracts received and from suggestions from the SNIP community. Suggestions for speakers come from many sources including symposia - chairs and committee members, the SNIP membership and NIDA staff. This latter input is important to the process because the NIDA staff have an inside perspective on who has new, exciting results as well as who is new to the area and might profit from the meeting. Finally, depending on time allotment, each symposium ends with a 20-30 minute discussion in which the audience and presenters exchange ideas about the data from the talks and challenge the possible interpretations of those results.
Along with the symposia, results are also disseminated via poster presentations usually on the opening night of the meeting. Two consecutive sessions are held: one exclusively for the young investigators who have been awarded travel scholarships to attend and the other for the more senior attendees. Another form of presentation is the Technology School presentations that were initiated at the 2001 Atlanta conference. These are 45-60 minute lectures devoted to exploring a single technique as it relates to the topics of the conference. For example, the Atlanta meeting featured talks on DNA array technology and Flowcytometric detection of intracellular staining. Finally, the conference sponsors breakfast, coffee breaks, a luncheon and an awards dinner for all participants. One of the keys to making personal interchanges and interactions fruitful, is the size of the conference which is keep deliberately manageable (approx. 100-120, although the 1999 meeting at the NIH brought in closer to 160). At this size, all participants are accessible to informal exchanges at the many planned and unplanned conference functions.