{ C O N T E N T S }
Volume 8, Issue 1

President’s Column

2005 Membership Registration
Don’t Delay!

ISMB 2005
Bound To Be the Best Yet

SIG Meetings
Kick-Off ISMB 2005

ISCB Thanks Sun
for Continued Support


Calling All Leaders!

PLoS Computational Biology
Exciting Open Access Journal

Student Council
Announcements & Updates

Travel Fellowships Offered
Deadlines Approaching Fast

Public Affairs

Immigration Workshop
April 16, 2005 in San Diego

RECOMB 2005 Highlights

ECCB 2005

SCCB Computational Biology
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

News from the Field

Events & Opportunities


Copyright © 2005
International Society for Computational Biology.
All rights reserved.

A Look at Public Affairs & Policies Affecting our Community

Your Input is Requested
The ISCB Public Affairs & Policies Committee is interested in hearing from members on the status of women and under-represented minorities in bioinformatics.

  • Does our field have less participation from these or other groups than other sciences?
  • If so, are there steps we could take to help correct this? We are interested in both data (anecdotes and pointers to relevant statistics) and solutions.

Please write to us at admin@iscb.org with any information you can share on this topic.

European Update
In Europe, progress is being made toward an independent European Research Council that would fund (based on peer review for scientific merit) all areas and levels of scientific research, and facilitate generation and implementation of long-term strategy. Currently, funding is via individual countries' budgets, or from the European Union's "Framework 6 Programme." The latter source of funds has been criticized for not being adequately streamlined. The overall European science research budget is expected to rise significantly. ISCB will follow this news as it develops, and hopes to form a subcommittee within this committee to focus on issues of this new funding council.

FASEB Updates
In the United States ISCB continues its membership in the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB), an organization of 22 US and international societies. FASEB’s primary strengths are in its efforts to impact US public policy and increase government funding of the biological sciences.

Through our membership in FASEB we are pleased to report that ISCB’s annual conference, ISMB 2005 in Detroit, Michigan, USA, June 25-29, has been approved for $16,000 in travel support funding through the Minority Access to Research Careers (MARC). As reported in previous ISCB communications, students, post docs, and assistant faculty who are presenting a paper or poster at ISMB05 needed to visit https://ns2.faseb.org/marc/travel1.html for full eligibility information and to apply for these travel funds if eligible. The deadline to apply was March 8, 2005, and notification will be made by April 8th. The MARC program is committed to supporting the increasing minority access to high level scientific conferences, and ISCB is thrilled to be included in the 2005 funding program.

U.S. Issues Updates
We are happy to see some positive changes in US policies regarding visa applications for science and technology students and workers from other countries. In general Visa Mantis terms have been extended from two to four years for students holding F visas, and are two years for temporary workers holding H visas, exchange workers holding J visas, and intercompany transferees holding L visas. Additionally, the US Department of State is reporting the average time to process visa requests has dropped to 14 days, from a high of several months as experienced in recent years. To read the full government press release on the Visa Mantis changes please go to http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2005/42212.htm.

US government-supported scientific research continues to feel a budget crunch. As this is being written, there is breaking news about a letter signed by over 700 microbiologists concerned about increased funding for biodefense work in the face of shrinking budgets for non-defense infectious disease research. The juxtaposition of these two developments may not be so simple (the source of the biodefense work is a separate pot created by a Presidential Directive), and we’re glad to see it managed via peer-review by NIH and not by the Department of Homeland Security. However, the underlying issue of shrinking budgets for research supported by the government is one that we need to rally around.

Committee Work Updates
The Public Affairs Committee met by phone in January and plans to meet throughout the year approximately every 6-8 weeks by teleconference. Those interested in joining the Committee are encouraged to write to admin@iscb.org with a brief statement of interest, including any experience in public affairs or policy work.

Peter Karp, past chair of the ISCB Public Affairs & Policies Committee, is leading a committee discussion on an issue directly relevant to computational biologists who apply for grants from the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) and other US government agencies. Currently grant reviewers are advised against going to URLs mentioned in grant proposals. NIH’s reasons for not visiting URLs include maintaining anonymity of the reviewers, the lack of a permanent record, and avoiding going above the page-limit requirements for NIH grant proposals. However, for grants relating to bioinformatics work, web sites showing previous work of the applicants can be essential to a full and accurate review of a proposal. Therefore, Karp is drafting a statement recommending that reviewers be allowed or encouraged to visit URLs, addressing the issues of concern and offering satisfactory solutions (i.e., use of anonymizer.com as a web proxy server such as used by Bioinformatics reviewers).

The next step will be for the committee to post the proposed statement on the ISCB website for a comment period. The committee will then work through the comments, making revisions as appropriate. Once the ISCB Board of Directors approves the final statement it will be available to the ISCB membership to vote on whether the statement is representative of our affected members’ needs. Should that vote pass the statement would then be issued to the government agencies involved as an official position of the ISCB. So, Karp’s effort is just a start at addressing something that many believe affects the bioinformatics community’s efforts to secure funding from US government agencies. If the statement is ultimately issued and affects a change in grant reviewer policies, the domino effect may also result in allowing URLs in grant proposals in other regions of the world that also do not currently allow for them.

Sign up to Receive Email Updates on Emerging Issues
If you would like to receive periodic updates on either FASEB issues or more global public affairs issues, you can add yourself to the mailing lists for email updates. To do so simply mark those selections when registering for membership or when renewing your previous membership (a specific mailing list options page is part of the registration process). If you are already a member but did not select those options, or cannot remember if you did, please login on the membership page and select Change Mailing List Options from the menu options on the left of the page. From there you can update all of your mailing list options, including these two new updates options. You must be an ISCB member to be included in these mailing lists, so if you have not joined yet, please do!