{ C O N T E N T S }
volume 6, issue 3

President’s Letter

ISMB 2003


SGI Awards

Sponsorship Opportunities

Rocky 1


ISCB Staff Introduction

Strategic Planning

Government Relations

Special Interest Groups



PSB 2004

Book Review


Events and Opportunities

Newsletter Homepage

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Strategic Planning

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.

John Pepin, 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 organizational needs.

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…”), a 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.

Initial results of the surveys and board work identified ISCB’s top five strengths and weaknesses as:
ISMB conference Governance—needs more effective organization
Staff to do Society work Financial dependence on ISMB
Bioinformatics as a rapidly growing field Affiliate/collaborator/member relations are inconsistent
Journals offered by the Society Perceived as U.S.-centric
Networking at the ISMB conference Branding/recognition 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.

Another immediate 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 reads


The International Society for Computational Biology is a scholarly society dedicated to advancing the scientific understanding of living systems through computation.

The ISCB 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.

Additionally, 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.


The International 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.

Following the 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 ISCB’s 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.