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Home » MWS History » Part V: 1988 – 1989

Part V: 1988 – 1989

In 1988, the first Miami Bio/Technology Winter Symposium took place. It was, and remains, the largest ever. The topic was protein engineering. The total attendance was 841. A sign of the times was that the largest group was 414, from outside academia, ten times the number post -2000.

The symposium was so large that we used the arena that is part of the City of Miami space, contiguous with the Hyatt.

The exhibits, an important source of income, were also the largest in number, and overflowed into the Hyatt gangways. In those days, and for many years, the afternoon session ended with a wine tasting in the exhibit area, with very good wines served in thimble sized cups, as many as twelve, distributed among the booths.

There were prizes for the most correct answers to the best wines, chosen by a sommelier. Often, the winners were graduate students, who clearly lived very rich social lives. Clearly, the new partnership with Nature was off to a good start.

The 1989 symposium was on neurobiology. Here we again snagged dual future Nobellists, Erwin Neher and Bert Sakmann, the joint Lynen Lecturers, on their patch – clamp technique.

But the City of Miami reneged on its agreement to provide free space to Hyatt symposia organizers.

Here we were dogged for a third time by a man who had twice before cheated us. He was now in charge of the City space.

Twenty years before, he had been a U of Miami employee, and arranged a secret commission from the Four Ambassadors Hotel, based on the rooms occupied by MWS attendees. He did not pocket the money himself. We discovered this in 1976, and there was uproar in the School. Many clinical departments also held symposia in the winter. But we learned from the lesson, and now got the commission ourselves, adding to the income from registration. Income from exhibits and sponsorships was to follow.

By 1979, our nemesis was now working for the Four Ambassadors. We kept a count of the rooms sold to attendees and noticed a discrepancy with the hotel commission. We put two and two together.

So, in 1990, after the Hyatt experience, and our third encounter with nemesis, we moved to Miami Beach for the second time.