Travel Fellowship Recipients (clockwise from far left): Sabine
Berg, Silvio Tosatto, Tommy Kaplan, Matthias Futschik, Mathias
Vandenbogaert, Michael Lappe, Tzvika Hartman
by Dr. Patricia
Annual International Conference on Research in Computational Molecular
BiologyRECOMB 2003 was held in Berlin, Germany, from
April 10-13. It brought together more than 500 scientists from 33
countries working in the field of bioinformatics and computational
molecular biology. This year's conference was attended by
an higher-than-average amount of students and young researchers,
said Martin Vingron, local organizer of RECOMB 2003. Thanks
to ISCB and the European Commission, we were able to provide 107
Student Travel Fellowships, enabling them to come to Berlin to present
their work to the community.
The RECOMB 2003
program consisted of three components: the keynote lectures, the
contributed talks and the poster session. Nine keynote speakers,
each a leading expert of his/her field, allowed the audience a deep
insight into a specific research area. A typical example was the
lecture, Biology and Bioinformatics on Halophilism,
by Dieter Oesterhelt. He took his audience to a journey into the
world of halobacteria, extremely halophilic archaea living in habitats
with extreme salt concentrations. Going through all the steps necessary
to obtain the available biological data about one distinct halobacterium
(data on microbiology, physiology, biochemistry and genetics), he
led the audience to an understanding of what is necessary in order
to model and simulate parts of cellular events of an organism and
even a whole organism.
gave an exciting lecture entitled Computational Analysis of
the Human and Other Mammalian Genomes. He presented a broad
overview of the key bioinformatic analysis problems presented by
the working drafts for the human, mouse and rat genomes. In addition,
he outlined some of his work combining hidden Markov models, used
in bioinformatics to analyse DNA from a single species, with continuous
time Markov models of molecular evolution, used to reconstruct evolutionary
history of several species.
The second part
of RECOMB 2003 consisted of contributed talks. The Program Committee,
headed by Webb Miller, selected 35 papers out of 175 submitted for
presentation at the meeting and inclusion in the Conference Proceedings.
They were grouped in sessions dealing with expression data, networks,
protein structure, sequence motifs, trees, sequences, proteomics,
haplotypes and others. Amongst others, a talk by Derek Chiang about
the theoretical analysis of the genomes of different yeast species
has been one of the scientific highlights of RECOMB 2003.
The talks were
complemented by lively poster sessions. 183 extended poster abstracts
outlined the broad spectrum of research in the field of Computational
Molecular Biology and its medical applications. The abundance of
different contributions enabled RECOMB 2003 to highlight developments
in computational biology as well as important advances in experimental
biology in the stimulating atmosphere of the conference.
honored two young researchers (PhD students) for their excellent
contributions to the conference. Gill Bejerano (Hebrew University,
Israel) has been awarded the RECOMB 2003 Best Paper by a Young
Scientist Award for his paper Efficient exact p-Value
Computation and Applications to Biosequence Analysis. He devised
a branch and bound approach to efficient exact p-value computation,
and applied it to a likelihood ratio test in a frequency table setting.
With two applications he briefly demonstrated his proposed method
to be readily extensible to other tests and test statistics of interest.
Andres Figueroa has been given the RECOMB 2003 Best Poster Award
for his poster Clustering Binary Fingerprint Vectors with
Missing Values for DNA Array Data Analysis.
In 2004, RECOMB
will be held in San Diego from March 27-31, 2003. Dan Gusfield,
Chair of the Program Committee, and ISCB Past President Philip Bourne,
Head of the Local Organizing Committee, have already taken up their
work, preparing for another RECOMB as challenging, vivid and stimulating
as this year's conference.