The International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB)

ISCB Announces 2018 Award Recipients
Russ Altman, Madan Babu, Ruth Nussinov, and Cole Trapnell

The International Society of Computational Biology (ISCB) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2018 Accomplishments by a Senior Scientist Award, Overton Prize, Innovator Award, and Outstanding Contributions to ISCB Award. Ruth Nussinov, NIH, NCI, is the winner of the Accomplishments by a Senior Scientist Award. Cole Trapnell, University of Washington, is the Overton Prize winner. M. Madan Babu, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK is the winner of the ISCB Innovator Award. Russ Altman, Stanford University has been selected as the winner of the Outstanding Contributions to ISCB Award.

Ruth Nussinov, Senior Principal Investigator, National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health; Professor, School of Medicine, Department of Human Genetics, Tel Aviv University
Recipient of ISCB Accomplishments by a Senior Scientist Award

The ISCB Accomplishments by a Senior Scientist Award recognizes leaders in the fields of computational biology and bioinformatics for their significant research, education, and service contributions. Ruth Nussinov is being honored as the 2018 winner of the Accomplishment by a Senior Scientist Award.

Ruth Nussinov is the Senior Principal Scientist and Principal Investigator at the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health and a Professor in the Department of Human Genetics, School of Medicine at Tel Aviv University.  Nussinov received her B.Sc in Microbiology from University of Washington in 1966, her M.Sc in Biochemistry from Rutgers University in 1967 and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Rutgers in 1977.

Besides her work on nucleic acid secondary structure prediction, Nussinov is also regarded as a pioneer in DNA sequence analysis for her work in the early 1980s. Nussinov’s algorithm for the prediction of RNA secondary structure is still the leading method. She proposed ‘Conformational Selection and Population Shift’ as an alternative to the textbook ‘Induced-Fit’ model in molecular recognition. Her recent studies unveiled the key role of allostery under normal conditions and in disease and the principles of allosteric drug discovery.
Dr. Nussinov serves as the Editor-in-Chief of PLOS Computational Biology and she is an elected Fellow of the Biophysical Society and the International Society for Computational Biology. She is a Highly Cited Researcher (ranking among the top 3000 researchers or 1% across all fields according to Thomson Reuters Essential Science Indicators, December 2015), earning them the mark of exceptional impact.

She also won an award from the AACR in 2017 for her paper on The Key Role of Calmodulin in KRAS-Driven Adenocarcinomas. mas.

Cole Trapnell, Assistant Professor, Department of Genome Sciences, University of Washington
Recipient of the ISCB Overton Prize

The Overton Prize recognizes the research, education, and service accomplishments of early to mid-career scientists who are emerging leaders in computational biology and bioinformatics. The Overton Prize was instituted in 2001 to honor the untimely loss of G. Christian Overton, a leading bioinformatics researcher and a founding member of the ISCB Board of Directors. Cole Trapnell is being recognized as the 2018 winner of the Overton Prize.

Cole Trapnell is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Genome Sciences at the University of Washington. Trapnell received his bachelor’s degree and PhD in Computer Science from the University of Maryland. As a graduate student, he was co-advised by Steven Salzberg, and Lior Pachter from the University of California, Berkeley, where he spent several years as a visiting student. While working with Salzberg and Pachter, Trapnell wrote TopHat and Cufflinks, and assisted Ben Langmead with Bowtie.

Dr. Trapnell studies stem cells and differentiation, primarily using high throughput transcriptome sequencing. He is the principal developer of several widely used open-source software tools for analyzing high-throughput sequencing experiments. At the University of Washington, his lab focuses on finding genes that govern stem cell maintenance and cell differentiation, primarily through single-cell genomics.

M. Madan Babu, Programme Leader, MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge
Recipient of ISCB Innovator Award

2016 marked the launch of the ISCB Innovator Award, which is given to a leading scientist who is within a decade and half of receiving her or his PhD degree, and has consistently made outstanding contributions to the field and continues to forge new directions. M. Madan Babu is the 2018 winner of the ISCB Innovator Award.

M. Madan Babu is a Programme Leader at the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology, Cambridge, UK. He obtained his undergraduate degree in 2001 from the Centre for Biotechnology, Anna University, India with fellowships from the Indian Institute of Science and the Indian Academy of Sciences. He then received an LMB-Cambridge International Fellowship and a Trinity College Research Scholarship to carry out his doctoral research at the Medical Research Council’s Laboratory of Molecular Biology (MRC-LMB) in Cambridge, UK.

Babu’s research group aims to gain a detailed understanding of how regulation is achieved at distinct levels of organization in cellular systems by placing a particular emphasis on understanding how the precise structure and intrinsically disordered regions of proteins contribute to cellular regulation. Specifically, he investigates regulation at three levels of organization: molecules, processes and genomes. At the molecular level, Babu aims to discover novel features of regulatory and signalling proteins. At the process level, he aims to understand how the different regulatory mechanisms contribute to cellular homeostasis. At the genome level, he studies the interplay between regulation and genome evolution.

Babu's work has also been recognized with national and international awards including the most recent Blavatnik Awards Life Sciences Laureate (2018), Francis Crick Medal and Lecture from the Royal Society (2015), Protein Society Young Investigator Award (2014), Lister Prize (2014), Biochemical Society of UK’s Colworth Medal (2013), Royal Society of Chemistry’s Molecular BioSystems Award (2011), British Genetics Society’s Balfour Award (2011), and the EMBO Young Investigator Award (2010).  Madan is an executive editor of Nucleic Acids Research, an elected member of EMBO (2016) and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry (2017)

Russ Altman, Professor, Director, Biomedical Informatics Training Program, Stanford University, Co-Principal Investagor, FDA Center for Excellence in Regulatory Science & Innovation
Recipient of ISCB Outstanding Contributions Award

The Outstanding Contributions to ISCB Award recognizes an ISCB member for her or his outstanding service contributions toward the betterment of ISCB through exemplary leadership, education, and service.

This award debuted in 2015, and the 2018 winner is Russ Altman.

Russ Altman is a professor of bioengineering, genetics, medicine, and biomedical data science (and of computer science, by courtesy) and past chairman of the bioengineering department at Stanford University.  Altman received an A.B. from Harvard College in 1983, a Ph.D. in medical information sciences from Stanford in 1989 and M.D. from Stanford Medical School in 1990. He also became board certified in 1991 in internal medicine and in clinical informatics.

Altman was on the ISCB Board of Directors from 1997-2005, and the ISCB president from 2002-2005. He has provided service to the ISCB membership through his leadership in establishing and helping to organize the annual Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing. Altman is the Editor of the Journal of Biomedical Informatics (since 2009), and he is a current member of the editorial boards for many major journals in bioinformatics, including Bioinformatics and PLOS Computational Biology. He served on the steering committee for the IEEE-ACM Transactions on Computational Biology (TCBB) from 2009-2011.  He is also an executive editor of Biomedical Computational Review, which covers the latest research wherever computation, biology, and medicine intersect.

Altman serves on the Advisory Committee to the NIH Director, Francis Collins (since 2012) and was Chair of the Science Board to the FDA Commissioner (2013-2014). He is a member of the National Academy of Medicine (formerly the Institutes of Medicine), Fellow of ISCB, Fellow of AAAS, Fellow of the American College of Physicians, Fellow of the American College of Medical Informatics, and Fellow of the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering. He is also the winner of the PECASE award.

ISCB will present the Accomplishments by a Senior Scientist Award, Overton Prize, Innovator Award and Outstanding Contributions to ISCB Award, at ISMB 2018 (, which is being held in Chicago, Illinois, USA, July 6 -10. Nussinov, Trapnell, and Babu will also present keynote addresses during the conference.

Full bibliographical articles profiling the award recipients will be available in the ISMB 2018 focus issue of the ISCB newsletter later this year, as well as the ISCB Society Pages in PLOS Computational Biology, OUP Bioinformatics, and F1000 Research ISCB Community Journal.