What will the
future of bioinformatics hold? How will the needs of ISCB members
and affiliates change as our science matures? Will we succeed in
keeping pace with the growth of our community? This past February
the ISCB board of directors began a strategic planning process to
answer these questions and determine a clear path for the future
of the Society.
a business consultant leading non-profit organizations through strategic
planning and revenue diversification, was hired to facilitate the
board through this process. As a Canadian who is based in the UK,
he is able to offer a unique multinational perspective to our international
As a first step,
a confidential questionnaire was sent to ISCB members and affiliates
to gather information about expectations and needs. Presented as
a series of 17 open-ended questions and 14 rating scales (i.e.,
On a scale of 1 - 5 with 5 being the best
few survey respondents were unhappy with the lack of multiple-choice
answers that would have expedited the process. However, it was important
for ISCB not to direct answers toward preconceived outcomes by limiting
answers to lists of options. We thank the 250+ members and affiliates
who completed the questionnaire, providing us with significant information
to help direct the activities and issues of the ISCB in the months
and years ahead.
The next steps
in the process included confidential ISCB assessment interviews
conducted by Pepin with leaders in our science, a series of teleconferences
with members of the board, and a strategic planning retreat for
a group of twelve ISCB leaders and staff. From all of this a framework
of the strategic plan was developed. The results were shared with
the full board of directors during a teleconference in mid-June,
and a half-day strategic planning session was held during the annual
board of directors meeting on June 29 in Brisbane, Australia.
of the surveys and board work identified ISCBs top five strengths
and weaknesses as:
more effective organization
to do Society work
dependence on ISMB
as a rapidly growing field
relations are inconsistent
offered by the Society
at the ISMB conference
of ISCB is still underdeveloped
The plan, when
finished, will lay the groundwork for capitalizing on our strengths,
and addressing ways of improving upon each of the above weaknesses.
outcome of the strategic planning effort is a slightly revised ISCB
Mission Statement. Numerous survey respondents took issue with the
reference to molecular biology in our original mission statement.
Therefore, to avoid any perceived limitations, the statement now
Society for Computational Biology is a scholarly society dedicated
to advancing the scientific understanding of living systems through
communicates the significance of our science to the larger scientific
community, governments, and the public at large. The ISCB serves
a global membership by advocating government and scientific policies,
providing high quality publications and meetings, and through
distribution of valuable information about training, education,
employment and relevant news from related fields.
the ISCB board of directors has created a Vision Statement for the
first time in our history to help express what we aim to accomplish
and become as an organization in the future.
Society for Computational Biology will measurably advance the
worldwide awareness and understanding of the science of computational
biology. As an authoritative society that represents the bioinformatics
and computational biology communities, the ISCB will be the most
respected and reliable international non-profit organization representing
this community. Ultimately, membership in the society will be
respected as an essential demonstration of personal commitment
toward the advancement of computational biology.
planning session in Brisbane, the strategic plan is now taking shape
to become a working document that the Society can use moving forward.
It is being written in conjunction with a three-year business plan
and budget to help set strategically based guidelines on how ISCBs
limited resources will be put to use, how to better organize the
leadership of the Society, including a transparent leadership path,
and how to increase our financial reserves so that we may add relevant
member benefits and services in the years ahead. Upon completion
and board approval, a copy of the plan will reside on the website
for review by all members and visitors.