A Note from ISCB President: Phil Bourne

On January 21, I officially took over the ISCB Presidency from Russ Altman and I am looking forward to fulfilling a demanding agenda as well as setting new long-term goals. Our science is in a tremendous state of expansion, and the agenda for this year centers around serving the society’s rapidly growing and diverse

Let me begin by introducing the other elected members of the 2002 ISCB Executive Committee:

Accompanying rapid growth is a more diversified science and the need for special interest groups (SIGs) to affiliate with the Society in ways not dissimilar to regional groups. SIGs are an active and vital part of the Society’s official conference, Intelligent Systems in Molecular Biology (ISMB), and a variety will be represented at this year’s meeting in Edmonton, Canada (www.ismb02.org). I have asked Barbara Bryant to foster the development of formal relationships between the SIGs and ISCB. Clearly, these efforts require a professional and well-organized Society office, beyond that provided by the Executive Committee, who are all volunteers with extremely demanding scientific jobs. A professional office requires funds, and I have asked David Rocke to explore fund raising opportunities, particularly through interactions with corporate partners.

I recently attended the International Conference on Bioinformatics 2002 in Bangkok to understand the needs of this area and how ISCB can foster regional groups. The ISCB has a role to play in fostering regional group development while doing everything it can to have our science be represented in a unified way to governments and society worldwide. What is clear is that there is a huge future for bioinformatics in the Asian region, but research organizations there have some of the same problems that plague all geographic areas—most notably insufficient trained personnel and a large number of scientists wishing to be trained in bioinformatics.

I’ve had a chance to contact representatives from the Japanese Society for Bioinformatics (JSBi), which shares common goals with us. JSBi has generously offered to inform its membership of what’s happening within the ISCB. I sincerely hope this is the beginning of a long and fruitful interaction between the two organizations. On behalf of the Executive Committee, the Board and our membership, I look forward to this interaction and encourage the membership of JSBi to contact the ISCB with ideas for joint programs.

This speaks to a general program of regional affiliation. In coming months, we will be proposing initiatives to assist regional groups to get established and to flourish, as well as instituting a more active educational program. I have asked Anna Tramontano to lead our regional affiliates effort and Michael Gribskov to begin work on an educational program. The first step, in both cases, is to understand the scope of what has previously been done. The improved ISCB Web site at www.iscb.org will include details of these and other efforts as they begin to unfold. Suggestions on the Web site and on the Society in general can be sent via email to admin@iscb.org.