A Note From ISCB President Michael Gribskov

With this winter newsletter of 2004 I am fast approaching the midway point of my first term as ISCB’s President. This past year was challenging for ISCB in many ways, and I am very proud of the enormous commitment shown by my fellow board and committee members. The Society is fortunate to have a great group of volunteer leaders from across the globe on our board of directors and committees, and the benefit of dedicated staff has proven invaluable to getting the work of the Society done.

To address the challenges ISCB faced in 2003, which included reduced memberships and conference attendance that resulted in tapping into our financial reserves to keep from eliminating services, the board of directors and staff crafted a strategic plan to guide us through the next few years. The planning process took nearly a year to complete, and there is a lot of work ahead to bring it all to fruition. But the plan itself will help keep us focused on strategic priorities so the ISCB can continue to grow as an international organization and enable our members to network, build collaborations and affiliations, stay informed of advances and opportunities in the field, and share in a common voice toward advancing the worldwide understanding of computational biology. The full strategic plan can be accessed on our website, and I encourage you to read through it and let us know if there is a direct role you would like to play in building the future of the ISCB.

Personally, I am committed to strengthening our ties with affiliated regional groups that serve memberships within defined geographic areas. In late 2003 I was honored to be a guest of the Korean Society for Bioinformatics at their annual symposium on bioinformatics, and of the Japanese Society for Bioinformatics at their annual genome informatics workshop. In both cases I met hundreds of very enthusiastic young researchers and reconnected with many of the leaders of bioinformatics from these countries. Their membership numbers are strong, their conference programming is excellent, and their interest in contributing their voice to the international scene is clearly evident. A basic framework for ISCB regional affiliations was introduced in early 2002, and it is time to build upon this program toward fulfilling a core priority of greater internationality in all we do. Toward that end, ISCB recently created the Affiliates & SIGs Committee to explore and develop interactions with affiliated regional groups and special interest groups. We will likely be running some experimental reciprocity programs as the committee develops a core set of benefits for members of affiliated groups that become members of the ISCB as well. I highly support these efforts and welcome the opportunity to work together with our affiliates in any way we can.

A year ago in this newsletter I asked you, our members and colleagues, to think about what you would like the ISCB to be and what you could do to help. As we embark on a new year, I reiterate this open invitation to get involved: Join a committee; post your news, events or educational programs to our website; fully participate in our conferences; and, oh yes, be sure to renew your membership for 2004!