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Part VI: 1990-1998

In 1990 the MWS moved to the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach. Today that would be hideously expensive, but the hotel was looking for business.

The auditoria and exhibit space were splendid. They could not give us all the bedrooms we needed, so we used the Eden Roc, and a nearby, less expensive , hotel for students. We were making surpluses. We had opened an investment account with the University and kept, as a minimum, a sum equal to one year of MWS expenditures, in case of a loss.

Income above that, in accordance with the Foundation by laws, was used in support of BMB graduate students and postdocs. Before the decade was out, we had used more than $100,000 in this way.

This resulted in the Foundation being elected to the President’s Honor Society.

But in 1992, we did make a loss. We held a plant biotechnology MWS . The honorary presidents were the two biochemists who had shared the 1959 Nobel Prize for the syntheses of DNA and RNA, respectively, Arthur Kornberg and Severo Ochoa. The Director General of UNESCO , Federico Mayor, also a biochemist, was also present. John Gurdon, Nobel Prize in 2012, was an awardee.

But this MWS, although well attended, did not attract sponsors. We needed income from sponsors, exhibitors and hotel commission, to keep the registration fees affordable.

Nevertheless, we had enough in reserve and kept helping our trainees.

In 1993 we returned to our more usual topics and began to alternate molecular medicine and protein engineering.

By 1994, the Fontainebleau had become too expensive and for the first time we moved to Ft Lauderdale. We we there for four years and in the second year encountered a loss for a reason that still dogs us, although never as bad as in 1995.

I refer to the weather up the east coast. Boston to Washington. Nowadays we advise any speaker from there , who is on the program in the first session, on Sunday afternoon, to fly in on Saturday.

In 1995, we not only lost speakers, but many attendees. The agreement with the host hotel provides for the auditorium to be free, as long as a minimum number of room nights is met.

We did not meet the minimum and faced a stiff penalty. Since a U of M trustee was a part owner of the hotel, I was able to negotiate a reduction.

But still , overall, we prospered.

Then, in 1998, we returned to the Hyatt, but now found a Miami Beach hotel , the Deauville, where we remained for seven years from 1999. A splendid location, right on the beach, great auditorium. It was the first place in which the Beatles performed in the United States and the organizers were given the use of the suite that Ronald Reagan had occupied during his unsuccessful attempt at the presidential nomination during the Republican convention in 1976.

At the 1998 MWS we snagged another two future Nobellists, Mario Capecchi and Oliver Smithies. We might have had a third, but he declined the award. Next year he won a solo Prize.

Next week. 1999, the year when Whelan resigned from the MWS.