of Director Introduces Newly Elected Executive Committee Officers
Board of Directors is pleased to introduce the newly elected Officers
who will serve as the senior leadership of the Board on the Societys
Executive Committee (EC) for the next two years. Of course, these
introductions are not really new, as all four of these individuals
have served on the EC this past year. But their election to a second
term, and Michael Gribskovs rise from Vice President to President,
is worthy of celebration for the membership of ISCB, indicating
a strong vote of confidence based on successful new initiatives
and developments over the past 12 months.
To take on an EC role within the ISCB is no small commitment. It
requires hours of volunteer leadership dedicated to advancing computational
biology through the ever-growing activities and interactions of
the Society. Furthermore, the ISCB bylaws require that each Officer
have served on the Board of Directors for a minimum of one year
prior to becoming an EC member. Each of these individuals, like
their counterparts on the ISCB Board of Directors, has been giving
of their time, expertise, and guidance for years.
As each of the new Officers heads into a new two-year term, below
is a glimpse of who they are and what they would like to accomplish.
Adjunct Associate Professor, University of California, San Diego
An ISCB member
since 1997, Michael Gribskov has served on the Board of Directors
and conferences committee since 1999, becoming co-chair in 2000.
Since then, he also took on co-chairmanship of the education committee
in 2002, and became ISCB Vice President that same year.
I have watched ISCB grow from a small group of only a few
hundred to a medium sized society. I am familiar with the structure
of the society, with its issues, and with many of the personalities
involved, said Gribskov. My personal experience comes
from running a moderately large research group of 8-12 people, with
many of our projects being collaborative in nature and involving
meeting the bioinformatics needs of various experimental consortia.
This combination of ISCB and personal experience should help me
undertake the daunting task of ISCB president.
In a relatively short time period Gribskov has witnessed computational
biology go from a relatively obscure and very specialized discipline,
to one that is widely touted as essential to further advances in
biology, biotechnology, human health, and treatment of disease.
Simultaneously, the ISCB has experienced extraordinary expansion,
growing to nearly two thousand in a matter of five years. Although
it may not be apparent to the general membership, Gribskov acknowledges
that accommodating this growth has required a huge effort to put
the ISCB on a more professional footing. He believes that due to
both ongoing and recent efforts of the board of directors, officers,
and staff a structure now exists that should scale with the demands
of a growing membership.
It is time, therefore, to rededicate ourselves to our original
purpose in forming a society, Gribskov said. We must
ask ourselves, what can ISCB do for its members, and more importantly,
what can ISCB do to advance science? Our impact must be felt in
many areas: we must work to inform and affect government policy,
we must provide better resources for instruction and for the implementation
of training programs, we must continue to support scientific meetings
of the highest quality, and we must continue to support and nurture
new ideas and approaches to science. He believes there are
many issues that must be dealt with while the Society struggles
to achieve these goals, and asks, How do we keep ISCB a truly
international society, how do we help promote the growth of computational
biology in less developed regions of the world, how do we develop
bridges between the increasingly fractured sub-disciplines of computational
biology, and how can we make ISCB more responsive to the needs and
issues of its members?
Finding answers to these questions, and implementing plans and actions
to address them will certainly keep the new President of ISCB busy
during the course of his term.
For the last year
Anna Tramontano has served as the first female Vice President of the
ISCB, a role that this election cycle has lengthened for another two
years. Meanwhile she continues working as Director of the Master in
Bioinformatics of the University of Rome, coordinator of the Bioinformatics
group of the Italian Biochemical Society, member of the EMBO course
and workshop Committee, and was recently appointed co-organizer of
Critical Assessment of Protein Structure Prediction (CASP). Her career
track also includes ten years as both a scientific director and an
information technology and research information systems senior manager
at a pharmaceutical company.
ISCB Vice President
Professor of Biochemistry, University of Rome La Sapienza
When asked about important issues facing the ISCB in the years ahead,
Tramontano said, I think that the work started with the Affiliated
Regional Groups should go further and be pursued more proactively.
We have collected information on several new and forming groups, and
the next step should be to convince these groups, many of which are
still rather unstructured, to contribute more effectively to the life
of the Society for the betterment of the science beyond their individual
regions. As she heads the Affiliated Regional Group effort,
it is expected to see excellent progress in this area.
Tramontano also feels very strongly that the structure of the Society,
especially with respect to its committees, needs some rethinking.
The role of each committee should be regularly reevaluated,
she said. There should be a mechanism in place to allow all
interested and willing members to contribute to them. Several
members of the Board and many individual ISCB members have repeated
these sentiments, and the Societys staff is working now with
committee chairs to put the wheels in motion for more purposeful and
better functioning committee structures.
From a personal perspective, Tramontano would like to help ISCB try
harder to have an impact on European funding in bioinformatics. As
for Europe, I started to discuss the issue of a possible cooperation
between ISCB and EMBO, with promising preliminary results. At
the same time, and although she acknowledges it may be more difficult
than on other continents, Tramontano encourages the ISCB to take advantage
of existing European federations of societies and try to lobby with
them, just as has recently begun within the USA by becoming an associate
member of FASEB.
M. Rocke, Ph.D.
Professor, University of California, Davis
has spent 25 years teaching statistics and management science at
the University of California, Davis(UCD). Through teaching, seminars,
and some formal course work, he acquired a working knowledge of
the basic business disciplines, including finance, accounting, and
management information systems. He currently manages a research
center with a three million budget in the College of Engineering
and the School of Medicine at UCD. Rocke has also served as ISCB
Treasurer for one year, becoming familiar with the financial issues
facing the Society, and ready to continue his efforts for this next
two year term.
His vision is simple: The ISCB needs to grow to accommodate
growth in the field, needs to adopt new programs, and needs to develop
into a fully-professional organization with steady financial planning.
Rocke is committed to spending more time with the Board of Directors
and Executive Committee, spearheading long-range, strategic issues
so that ISCB can move in the desired direction with as little disruption
Serving on the
ISCB Board of Directors since 2000, and as ISCB Secretary since 2002,
Barbara Bryant continues to bring a myriad of both professional and
volunteer leadership skills to the Executive Committee. Since 1995
she has held management positions at Millennium Pharmaceuticals, and
volunteer positions in community organizations, such as serving as
President of the Cambridgeport Children's Center for four years, including
holding the offices of President and Vice President. Bryant said,
My style is to ask questions, listen, look for synergies, and
integrate ideas, using techniques acquired from formal training in
M. Bryant, Ph.D.
Bryant sees major issues facing the ISCB as continuing to improve
the quality of the Society-associated journals, conferences, and education
at the intersection of life sciences and computation, taking advantage
of opportunities to influence governments throughout the world, and
determining and acting on our responsibilities as scientists and engineers
to society as a whole. Although not intending to accomplish this alone,
she embraces her role as ISCB Secretary as one involving communication
on behalf of the Society, both within the Board of Directors and through
Additionally, Bryant has taken a first step in the issue of funding
by becoming the ISCB representative to the Federation of American
Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) Board of Directors and
Public Affairs Committee. She believes the broad funding effort can
be further augmented by ISCBs active recruitment of non-U.S.
members into the society, onto the Board of Directors, and onto the
Executive Committee to help identify means of influencing and
informing governments and public decision-makers outside of the United
States. Bryant further points out, In the United States
and elsewhere, government research funds are shifting to defense against
bioterrorism. How does this change affect our field? ISCB should be
a voice advocating responsible allocation of funds across scientific
endeavors. One of many solutions she suggests is that the Society
create forums for Members to discuss and formulate recommendations
that can be taken to policy makers by the newly formed ISCB Government
Like ISCB Vice President Tramontano, Bryant advocates active and functional
Education, Conferences, Publications and Government Relations Committees
that involve more Society members in their discussion and recommendation
processes. Specifically, she would like to see the Education Committee
pursue opportunities currently under discussion to create resources
for educational institutions and students.
Finally, Bryant is an advocate for appropriate public access to code,
data and scientific analyses (literature), and would like the ISCB
to provide information and support for researchers who wish to share
their work. She encourages the Society to investigate legal issues
relating to Intellectual Property and make recommendations to lawmakers
and institutions for solutions that benefit the advancement of knowledge.
On a lighter note, Bryant promises to continue my campaign to
make Orienteering the official sport of the Society! And if
you know anything about Orienteering, all of the above is comparable
to one big course, with each of the Officers, Directors, and Society
members participating in reaching the final destination with the tasks
of greatest value completed. An important element of Orienteering
is that the participants have fun, so the ISCB Board of Directors
encourages each and every member to fully enjoy the features and benefits
of membership, while gaining valuable support and resources in the