{ C O N T E N T S}
Volume 15, Issue 1

A Letter to ISCB
Members & Colleagues

Officer and Student Council Elections

Spotlight on ECCB12
Meet the ISCB Fellows Class of 2012
Student Council
Symposium Highlights

Overton Prize:
Ziv Bar-Joseph

2012 ISCB Sr.
Scientist Award:
Gunnar von Heijne

ISMB/ECCB 2013 Berlin

News From ISCB Student Council

FASEB Updates

Stacy Slagor

PLoS Computational

A Report of the Curriculum Task Force

Bioinformatics Journal Update

NIGMS Celebrates
50 Years

ISCB Continues to Advocate for Open Access

GLBIO 2012 Highlights

Call for Proposals to
Organize ISCB-Asia 2013

ISCB Community
Conferences and

Upcoming Conferences & Events

ISCB Conferences

Cover Image

International Society for Computational Biology
Copyright © 2012
International Society for
Computational Biology.
All rights reserved


A milestone is one of a series of numbered markers placed along a road… Milestones are placed to provide reference points… (Wikipedia). This year ISCB is reaching and celebrating many milestones on its path to continued growth. Each of these milestones marks an advance in our field as well as in biomedical sciences. Each advance contributed to the good of life. We could all be proud to be part of that!

Burkhard Rost, President BJ Morrison McKay, Executive Officer

5, 10, 20, 50, and even 100 years… These are the milestones we are celebrating throughout 2012. For such a young society in a field that was full of new and massive challenges just a few short years ago, we are pleased that bioinformatics and computational biology have achieved a level of incontrovertible recognition for building essential tools that advance biological research, and we salute the longevity of the following conferences and institutions:

5 Years In 2012 ISCB held the Fifth Annual Conference on Semantics in Healthcare and Life Sciences (CSHALS). This meeting is the result of a proposal brought to ISCB by members Eric Neumann and Ted Slater, and remains the only meeting ISCB organizes that focuses on a single, specialized topic, and that features applications specific to hospitals and pharmaceutical research and development. Since its inception CSHALS has been held in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, but the idea of rotating with a European location or starting a European version of this event is open for consideration. If this interests you and you would like to get involved please let us know – new initiatives can only move forward with support from our community and the commitment of volunteers to lead the way.

10 Years The Rocky Mountain Bioinformatics Conference (Rocky), held every year in Snowmass/Aspen, Colorado, USA, was started ten years ago during an ISCB Board of Directors meeting. At that point ISCB revenue was derived completely from ISMB. Larry Hunter, a founder of both ISMB and ISCB and ISCB's first president, suggested during this meeting a first step toward diversify with a small ISCB meeting in Colorado. Originally conceived of as a regional meeting, Rocky drew an international attendance from the beginning, and has grown to welcome over 150 people annually from around the world. The meeting is well known for offering lengthy networking breaks in the middle of the day, but the real beauty of Rocky is that virtually everybody who wishes to present their research can do so either as a 7-10 minute flash presentation, or as a poster. A lot of science is presented at this 2 ½-day meeting, and is balanced by substantial networking on the slopes or in town during the mid-day breaks.

20 Years ISMB is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year in Long Beach, California, USA. In its very first year ISMB drew 200 people to Bethesda, Maryland, USA, for a gathering of researchers applying artificial intelligence to the study of molecular biology. Although the scientific foundation of the meeting remains true to its original core concept, the ISMB of today bears little resemblance to that of 20 years ago. By the fifth ISMB in Halkidiki, Greece, during which the ISCB was founded as a professional society to serve our community, the collective total number of talks barely exceeded 200. At the 20th ISMB in Long Beach, more than 200 talks will be presented.

This jump in participation was caused by moving from a single papers track (through 2003), to parallel papers tracks thereafter, to the truly multi-track meeting format introduced at ISMB/ECCB in Vienna (2007). Tracks have their own "life" and "identity" and we have experimented over the years with how to optimally define those tracks. Last year at the ISMB/ECCB in Vienna (our second meeting in that city), we introduced the Oral Poster Presentations - short talks selected from among the best poster submissions. In Long Beach we have even more of this due to an overwhelmingly positive reaction. This year, we dare another leap: we combine the Proceedings and Highlight tracks during the presentation (they remain separate entities for the task of reviewing). The rationale was to avoid too much overlap and "running around." We will need your feedback on how you liked this novelty. Now that we have hopefully managed the worst overlaps, we can consider coordinating even the topics during the smaller tracks, namely Late Breaking Research, Oral Poster Presentations, and Technology. This will be another challenge that we hope to approach for next year's ISMB/ECCB in Berlin, Germany.

At our 20th Anniversary ISMB, we have made many efforts to present exceptional science and have also planned presentations and social events facilitating this milestone celebration. We hope that you will be joining in all of the fun this week in Long Beach.

50 Years The U.S. Congress authorized establishment of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) in 1962, making this its 50th anniversary year. From the start the NIGMS mission has been to conduct and support research and training in the general or basic medical sciences. Within NIGMS there are six divisions, and although the Division of Biomedical Technology, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology may prominently feature among PIs within our discipline, our community members and conference attendees certainly interact with all the NIGMS divisions. In recognition of this Golden Jubilee we are offering two Special Sessions organized by NIGMS in Long Beach.

100 Years This year the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) celebrates its centennial and recently partnered with NIGMS for joint celebrations in Washington DC. At just 15 years old, ISCB has a long way to go until our own centennial, but we are inspired by FASEB's long history of accomplishments in the promotion of the scientific agenda in the U.S., and can learn much from their governance model as they successfully work on behalf of the shared interests of 26 different professional societies.

Arguably, the association with FASEB has been one reason for another important recent achievement of ISCB, namely the publication of strong stances for open access, spearheaded by Rick Lathrop chairing the ISCB Public Affairs and Policy Committee (R Lathrop et al. (2011) Bioinformatics 27:291-4; R Lathrop et al. (2011) PLoS Comput Biol 7:e1002014). This strong endorsement of open access was also the basis of two letters that ISCB sent this year to the members of the U.S. Congress to express our strong support in favor of open access to scientific literature resulting from research that is publicly funded. Rick Lathrop directed this initiative, and you can read about both of these actions in this newsletter and then take action of your own using the text of ISCB's letter as your template.

Global Society Also this past year ISCB has finally realized the last important leap toward the realization of another dream, namely that of becoming a society that routinely organizes meetings in both the Northern and the Southern hemispheres, and one on each of five continents (North America, Europe, South America, Africa, and Asia) at least every two years. The last important step was the organization of ISCB-Asia/InCoB in December 2011 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Sheila Nathan chaired this first ISCB-Asia as a joint meeting with the 10th anniversary InCoB meeting organized by APBioNet (Asia-Pacific Bioinformatics Network). ISCB Board member Paul Horton chairs the second ISCB-Asia in December 2012 on the BGI campus in Shenzhen, China.

Just four months ago the second ISCB-Latin America was a resounding success -- with 240 participants - in Santiago, Chile, under the leadership of ISCB member Francisco Melo, who chaired the conference brilliantly. The next event in that series will be held in 2014 as a joint meeting with the Brazilian Association for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology's 10th anniversary X-Meeting (due to this collaboration ISCB-Latin America 2014 has been moved to October instead of its regular window in mid-March). ISCB-Africa is already moving well through the planning process for our third conference organized together with ASBCB, the African Society for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology, being held next March and chaired by Alia Benkahla in Tunis, Tunisia. Each of these new "ISCB-x meetings" has the goal of bringing the international and local scientific communities together for shared investigation and collaboration. We salute the conference chairs named above, each of who has put so much energy into creating a truly amazing meeting. Please be sure to join us as many of these upcoming events as your schedule allows!

Throughout this newsletter you will find other ISCB announcements and profiles: the ISCB 2012 prize winners Ziv Bar-Joseph (ISCB Overton Award) and Gunnar von Heijne (ISCB Senior Scientist Award); the seven new ISCB Fellows (Bonnie Berger, Peter Karp, Jill Mesirov, Pavel Pevzner, Ron Shamir, Martin Vingron, Gunnar von Heijne); and Stacy Slagor as the newest full-time addition to our professional staff.

For the second time, you can vote for ISCB officers (members of the ISCB Executive Committee) and Student Council Leaders at ISMB. The election starts online on July 3rd and concludes both online and in person in Long Beach through the end of ISMB on July 17th.

In 2012, ISCB is passing a series of milestones that mark so many achievements. This is a moment in time to be proud of being part of such a dynamic and exciting young professional society. ISCB continues to be small. This means, we are nothing without your active contribution. Becoming and staying a member is an important first step. We all need more from you. Thanks for contributing to our growing community. May we share many milestones ahead!

BJ Morrison McKay
Executive Officer

Burkhard Rost