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Volume 7, Issue 4
A Year in Review
2005 Registration Now Open
ISCB Open Meeting Planned
Save the Date!
Reports from ISMB/ECCB 2004
Student & Post Doc Awards
Our Vision, Our Future
Affairs and Policies
Take Office January 2005
of British Columbia
Genetics Graduate Program Retreat
Advertising & Corporate Memberships
Comp Bio & Bioinformatics Society
Recap of the 2nd Annual Meeting
Bioinformatics Events Worldwide
from the Field
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© 2004 International Society for Computational Biology. All
Board Members to Take Office January 2005
During the annual ISCB board of directors meeting in Glasgow, Scotland
last July, elections were held and the results included the reelection
of one board member and seven new members elected for the coming
term (2005-2008). We look forward to welcoming each one of them
in their full capacity soon. Until then, here is a bit of an introduction
to give you a glimpse of the skills and issues they will be bringing
to the board.
Professor, Biomolecular Engineering
University of California, Santa Cruz, USA
Kevin Karplus’ primary research interest lies in protein structure
prediction and protein design: secondary-structure prediction with
neural nets, fold-recognition and alignment with hidden Markov models,
and new-fold prediction with fragment replacement and cost functions.
in serving on the ISCB Board of Directors is motivated by a desire
to see ISCB become an accrediting body for bioinformatics degree
programs, as well as the society of our science that address growth
issues of the field before it gets too unwieldy. Dr. Karplus is
also impassioned about keeping journals and conferences affordable,
while keeping the Society in stable financial condition at the same
time. Dr. Karplus is particularly qualified to tackle these issues,
having gone through accreditation processes for a new computer engineering
department and having helped create both undergrad and graduate
bioinformatics curricula at UCSC. In addition to joining the ISCB
board of directors, Dr. Karplus is also heading a task force of
the education committee to draft a whitepaper on accreditation.
tidbit of background information is that Dr. Karplus was on the
organizing committee for the ISMB conference in Greece where the
first ISCB board of directors meeting was held, and then served
as ISCB's first webmaster. He has been on the Program Committee
of ISMB since the third or fourth ISMB. So, welcome aboard and in
many ways welcome back, Dr. Karplus!
South African National Bioinformatics Institute
Janet Kelso’s research focuses on the building and application
of ontologies for molecular biology, and she is particularly interested
in understanding the causes and results of transcriptome variation
both within and between species.
has the responsibility to provide credible leadership in the rapidly
growing field of computational biology,” stated Dr. Kelso.
“To this end it is critical that the organization examines
ways to enter into discussions with its wider membership during
the formulation of policy such that policies published by the society
reflect accurately the general consensus of the membership.”
Additionally, she feels the ISCB as an organization, as well as
its individual members, should seek new ways to inform scientists,
governments and the public about the importance of computational
biology. As a member of the South African National Bioinformatics
Network she was involved in the development of an approved syllabus
for a postgraduate bioinformatics degree, and is anxious to contribute
her experience with this development to the ISCB education committee.
Dr. Kelso is
currently in the process of moving from South Africa to the Max-Planck
Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany. We hope she
settles in soon so we can tap her to work hard on our members’
Max-Planck Institute for Informatics, Germany
is thrilled to welcome Dr. Thomas Lengauer back for another term
as a director of the ISCB. He was previously a founding member of
the board, serving until 2000. During that time he served as ISCB
vice president (1999-2000), organizer of ISMB 1999 (Heidelberg),
as has been on the organizing teams of ISMB in 1995, 2000, 2004
research interests span topics in computational biology and computational
chemistry. In computational biology investigated topics include
protein structure prediction, structure-function relationships,
protein-ligand (esp. drug) interactions, analysis of expression
data, disease-related bioinformatics, notably HIV and HCV. In computational
chemistry he is active in drug screening.
"As a European
representative of the ISCB board of directors and active member
in the organization of European bioinformatics conferences I would
engage in helping ISCB outreach further into European communities,”
Dr. Lengauer stated in his candidacy to return to the board. He
believes the key issues of ISCB are to expand its international
representation and relevance, and secure the solidity of its financial
base. With his experience in conceptualizing and coordinating research
funding programs (four German national research programs, three
of them in bioinformatics, totaling roughly € 35 Mio) and international
conference series (ISMB, RECOMB, ECCB), we are very happy to have
Dr. Lengauer coming back on board.
the EMBL organization Dr. Reinhard Schneider works on Data Integration
and Knowledge Management, setting up and initiating pilot projects.
His election to the board, however, was based very much on his belief
that the “Three Year Strategic Plan” of the ISCB captures
the issues of greatest importance to the Society. He stated, “Personally
I believe the most pressing issue is the financial stability. To
rely mainly on the revenue of the ISMB conference has shown to be
quite vulnerable. Without a stable financial backing all other activities
will suffer substantially.”
Based on his
industry experience, Dr. Schneider has committed to helping find
a sustainable funding strategy and to foster the relationships with
commercial partners. His industry experience includes six years
working for a software company in the Life Science Informatics field,
from unpacking computers and setting up coffee machines up to the
position of an Executive Board Member being responsible for approx.
200 employees in six development sites in the US and Europe. He
also currently serves on the supervisory board of a biotech company
and is involved in setting up a start-up company. Although he is
a very busy man, ISCB is fortunate to have Dr. Schneider as an incoming
board member and we expect to be reporting good things of his progress
in helping us achieve our strategic plan.
Terence P Speed, PhD
Professor of Statistics
University of California at Berkeley, USA
fast at work Dr. Terry Speed spends his time in microarray data
analysis, motif finding, gene mapping, and molecular evolution.
However, like all of our incoming board members, Dr. Speed wears
many hats and his interest in serving the ISCB members lies in ensuring
the financial viability of the Society, and maintaining and enhancing
the quality of the journals and the conferences.
membership, and seeking the active involvement of members in the
society's management, Dr. Speed believes ISCB can achieve all of
its goals and more. He has plenty of experience in similar societies
to draw from. For example, Dr. Speed has been a long term member
and past office bearer of the International Biometric Society, including
past president of the Western North American Region. Similarly he
is currently president of the Institute of Mathematical Statistics,
an international society of about 4.000 members, and serves on the
RECOMB steering committee. With this level of leadership experience
ISCB is looking forward to welcoming Dr. Speed aboard in January.
Tan Tin Wee, PhD
National University of Singapore
the National University of Singapore, Dr. Tan Tin Wee spends his
time on bioinformatics databases, bioinformatics services, and Grid
to the ISCB, however, Dr. Tan listed the following as critical issues
the board should address now to serve the membership and retain
the relevance of the Society:
1. FINANCES - How to build financial strength is the primary issue
2. INDUSTRY - Establishing industry liaisons and achieving industry
support is crucial.
3. AFFILIATIONS - International organizations sit on top of a pyramid
of regional and national organizations, and ISCB is at the unique
position to exercise its leadership role.
4. EDUCATION - ISCB's educational program is strategically placed
to help institutions formalize their curriculum, accredit them,
coordinate their rollout, and guide their progress.
5. PROFESSIONAL ACCREDITATION - A potentially sizeable chunk of
our membership needs professional recognition from a respected professional
6. GOVERNMENT ACTIVISM - ISCB is well placed to advise and facilitate
the wave of change in the life sciences as well as promote the bioinformatics
and computational aspects of R&D expenditure among national
R&D agencies from US through Europe to Asia.
7. STANDARDISATION - There is an urgent need in the life science
community for standardization in the database records, the interoperability,
the standard interfaces to a wide range of biological information.
Can ISCB fill this vacuum, or should it do it itself, or foster
another organization to do it, or let somebody else take the lead
the above, however, Dr. Tan clarified, "This is not to say
our academic and research activities, which are our mainstay, should
be neglected along the way. Strong educational programs to bolster
ISCB's conference programs should be included. A strong set of conferences
and a healthy journal are both established pre-requisites for any
international organization." As for the major issues highlighted
above, Dr. Tan hopes to contribute his experience and advice in
the board processes, and he has already started to do so during
the three month board training he and all new board members are
currently going through.
Alfonso Valencia, PhD
Protein Design Group
Instituto Nacional de Bioinformatica, Spain
This was a reelection
to the board for Dr. Alfonso Valencia’s second consecutive
term. In addition, He has recently been named co-Executive Editor
of Bioinformatics journal, is currently serving as co-chair
of the ECCB 2005 conference to be held in Madrid, and for the last
few years has been part of the program committees of ISMB, GIW,
ECCB, WABI, and other key conferences in the area.
activities include structural bioinformatics, text mining, function
prediction, and comparative genomics. However, Dr. Valencia was
keenly interested to serve on the ISCB board again due to his recent
appointment to the Bioinformatics journal, and for his
desire to continue to help grow the Society to a truly international
level. "To reach visibility as a truly influencing Society
and in particular increase its visibility as a vehicle for science"
is of particular importance to him.
past few years I have been mediating between ECCB and ISCB, e.g.
co-organization of the ISMB/ECCB 04 conference. During the last
year I have also initiated conversations with FEBS, representing
the European Biochemical Societies, for a possible collaboration
with ISCB," stated Dr. Valencia. "My plan is to continue
with these two mediation activities." Regarding the focus in
Science, he has collaborated in the selection of papers for the
ISMB conferences in 2003, 2004 as area chair, and is one of the
organizers of one of the oldest SIGs (text mining ) and of a new
one on Genome Annotation. "SIGs are the most dynamic scientific
part of the Society. Therefore, my intention is to continue working
in the integration of the SIG activities in the Society, and their
relation with the ISMB program areas," stated Dr. Valencia.
Senior Principal Scientist, Informatics
protein-coupled receptor chemical biology is what keeps Dr. Lisa
Vawter busy at Aventis. That is to say, association of pharmacology
with structural and sequence features in service of predicting small
molecules that will interact in predictable ways with the receptors.
Additionally, she has a long-standing academic collaboration with
a group that develops heuristics for solving large phylogenetic
trees and does performance analysis of phylogenetic algorithms.
her nomination for a seat on the ISCB board, Dr. Vawter saw as major
issues facing the Society (a) Acquiring long-term funding for public
computational resources (e.g. supercomputing facilities) and (b)
Fostering interdisciplinary communication. To do this she proposes
the Society must address the primary funders of supercomputing facilities
(DOE, NIH and NSF in the US) and gain commitment for continuous
funding of some portion of staff and of hardware and upgrades. She
also supports the idea that ISCB should cosponsor workshops at the
interface of data analysis and algorithm development and the fields
that we wish to impact with our ideas, including applied genetics,
genomics, physiology, drug design and pharmacology (the interface
between small molecules and proteins). “With increased communication
with scientists in these fields, we will not only increase our understanding
of biologically significant parameters and biologically interesting
problems, but we will also foster advances in research and increase
our impact on these fields," she exclaimed.
With Dr. Vawter’s
extensive experience in managing and participating in global interdisciplinary
efforts, academic and industry politics, and skills as a good facilitator
and builder of teams, we have no doubt she will be a very welcome
addition to the ISCB board of directors.
On January 21,
2005 these seven new and one renewed board members will take office,
as seven others step down at the conclusion of their terms. The
outgoing board are: Russ Altman, Soren Brunak, Winston Hide, Peter
Karp, Teri Klein, Tandy Warnow, and Mike Waterman. On behalf of
the entire membership of ISCB, we wish to thank them for their tremendous
spirit of volunteerism these past years, and hope for their continued
involvement in the workings of the Society. The input and efforts
of each and every one of them have been invaluable, and it is likely
the ISCB would not be the organization it is today were it not for