A Note From ISCB President Michael Gribskov

Now that the joint ISMB/ECCB meeting in Glasgow is upon us, I am astonished that another year has passed so quickly. This has been a stressful and busy year for ISCB and as the ISMB meeting represents the beginning of a new one I’d like to recap some of the notable events.

The ISMB 2003 meeting was a resounding scientific success, but low attendance resulted in a loss of money for the society. This has made it difficult throughout the year to supply travel fellowships at the level we have in the past.

• Society membership dues have been restructured making the subscription to the society journal, Bioinformatics, optional. The practical result is that rather than simply paying most of the membership fee to Oxford University Press to cover the subscription, ISCB now retains the money for society projects. This greatly reduces our dependence on the success of the ISMB meeting.

• Many members have commented on the growing pains experienced by the society journal. OUP and ISCB have worked hard to address these issues and have made many positive changes that are resulting in more consistent reviewing, higher quality papers, and faster turn-around. I especially thank Phil Bourne and the rest of the ISCB publications committee, and Claire Saxby of OUP for their efforts. I also welcome the new executive editors Alex Bateman and Alfonso Valencia.

• As the society has grown, there have been many suggestions for starting journals in new areas. In response to this interest, ISCB issued a request for proposals for new society journals. Many replies have been received and are under consideration by the publications committee.

• The joint meeting of ECCB and ISCB is a first for the society and promises to be the most interesting ISMB meeting to date. This year’s renewed thrust on bringing together experimental biologists, computational biologists, and computational scientists is timely and has reinvigorated the meeting. I hope that many of the changes instituted this year will be retained in future meetings.
So what is our scorecard for the year? On the plus side we have made it through a very difficult year financially and are well-poised to move forward. Significant progress has been made in improving the responsiveness of the society to member interests, although much more remains to be done. On the negative side, we have not made as much progress as many of us would like to see. Much remains to be done especially in public affairs, education, special interest groups and affiliated societies and in completing the reorganization of the society. In the next year we will continue to work to invigorate the ISCB committees and look forward to your participation.

In the end, it is all about the science. ISCB represents the opportunity for everyone involved in computational biology, throughout the world, to speak with a united voice and be heard. ISCB is and should be a forum for the best scientific meetings and publications. In the next years I hope to see our membership continue to grow – not just to be big, but so that our voices can be heard. And I look forward to seeing the society sponsor a broadening range of the best computational science in all regions of the world.

See you in Glasgow,
Michael Gribskov
President, ISCB