{ C O N T E N T S }
Volume 9, Issue 1

President’s Letter

Call for Leadership Nominations

ISCB Membership

URLs in Grant Proposals
Your Feedback Requested

Announcing MentorNet
E-Mentoring Program

ISMB 2006 News & Updates:

- ISMB 2006 Registration
Now Open

- SwissProt 20

- SIGs & Satellite Meetings

- Introducing the PLoS Track of Oral Presentations

- Student Council Symposium

- Help Send a Student to ISMB

- Advertise in the ISMB 2006 Newsletter

Other Conferences News
and Reports:

- RECOMB Celebrates 10 Years

- Affiliate Focus: OKBIOS

- Travel Fellowships Available

- Key Conferences: Key Dates

Student Travel Fellowships Yearbook

Bioinformatics Books New Online Features

Post your Events & News to ISCB Website

Upcoming Conferences & Events

News From the Field



Copyright © 2006 International Society for Computational Biology.
All rights reserved

RECOMB 2006 Celebrates a Commendable, Long Term Success

The conference on Research in Computational Molecular Biology (RECOMB), celebrated its 10th Anniversary conference on the island of Lido in Venice, Italy. The Universita' degli Studi di Padova, and the Department of Information Engineering at the University of Padova, Italy played hosts to this milestone conference, welcoming over 400 delegates for the four days of scientific talks, invited lectures, panel discussions, poster sessions, social networking and exhibitions. Conference and Program Committee chairs, Concettina Guerra and Alberto Apostolico respectively (both affiliated with Georgia Tech in the USA and University of Padova in Italy) worked very hard during the past 12 months with various committees to produce a praiseworthy result in a memorable location.

The 2006 program committee was comprised of 38 members including the seven member steering committee and eight past program chairs, to take on the scientific responsibility of reviewing 212 submitted papers resulting in 40 oral presentation slots. Detailed here is the number of submissions by country, sorted by acceptance rate. Overall acceptance rate for RECOMB 2006 was 18.87%. Other details and statistics from the 2006 conference are provided in PDF (204K) or Powerpoint (6MB) formats.

Country of Contact Person
# Accepted
(some overlap)
% Accept Rate by Country
# Submitted
Totals Overall

In recognition of the 10th anniversary conference, the annual RECOMB business meeting on April 3, 2006 focused a good deal of attention on data gathered by Sarah Aerni and Eleazar Eskin, both of the University of California, San Diego, to reflect back on the conference’s roots and document its growth and development over the years. The first RECOMB was held in Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA, in 1997. Since then the conference has met five additional times in North America (once in Canada, four in the U.S.), three times in Europe (including this year’s conference in Venice, Italy), and one time in Asia. Global attendance distribution remained fairly steady in the first five years, with an average of approximately 66% coming from the U.S. and 34% from outside USA, regardless of the actual conference location. However, the first few years post 9-11 showed a surge in U.S. attendance, reaching as high as 86% in 2002 when the conference was held in Washington, DC, and remaining above 70% for the next two years in the U.S. and Europe. In 2005 the Boston conference drew non-U.S. attendance to a high of 46%, and in 2006 the conference in Italy appears to have marked a return to the original average, with 65% from the USA and 35% from everywhere else. It has been an interesting evolution, to say the least, and next year in San Francisco will either confirm or dispel the theory that early attendance trends have in fact returned.

The program committee of the first ten years has ranged from the combined volunteer efforts of 23 people in 1997, to a 38 person PC in 2006. Four loyal scientists involved in the first RECOMB have remained consistency active in the conference in each of these ten years: Thomas Lengauer, Pavel Pevzner, Ron Shamir and Mike Waterman.

Some of the notable developments in the history of RECOMB include a trend toward accepted papers coming from collaborative authors. In 1997 nearly 20 of the accepted papers were from single authors, yet this number has gradually dropped over the years, with just one accepted paper of 2006 submitted by a single author. Two or three authors is most common of today’s accepted papers (with the highest number to-date having been 12!).

To view the full 10 Years of RECOMB presentation, please click are provided in PDF (2MB) or Powerpoint (6MB) formats.

Following the business meeting at RECOMB 2006, in recognition of this being a significant tenth anniversary year, a distinguished panel was convened to address the past, present and future of computational biology. Panel members were Alberto Apostolico, David Haussler Sorin Istrail, Thomas Lengauer, Michal Linial, Ron Shamir, Terry Speed and Mike Waterman, with Pavel Pevzner serving as moderator.

Pevzner asked three questions of the panelists:

1) What are the past glories of this discipline?

Waterman: Bringing models into the development of sequence analysis was very important.
  Lengauer: Genome assembly was the basic engine for propelling an entire field into turbo drive.
  Istrail: An eager and aptly growing generation of computational biologists.
  Shamir: The word “bioinformatics.” It did not exist ten years ago when RECOMB first started.
  Linial: The glorious thing is that so many can now cite biological terms and concepts valid for both computer scientists and biologists and mathematicians.
  Haussler: A cultural shift is emerging between the communities of molecular biologists and mathematicians.

2) And what have been the past failures of computational biology?

Speed: A lack of engagement of the statistics community in the RECOMB community – Get your statisticians involved – collaborate with them – bring them here!
  Lengauer: Linking up with experimentalists. We need to get much closer to the bio reality, instead of being in danger of creating bio worlds.
  Shamir: Had hoped by now the RECOMB audience would be balanced with biologists and computer scientists, but that is not yet so.

3) What are the most important advancements of computational biology, and what do you look forward to?

Speed: Technology… DNA technology… ChIP technology. Data is driving the field and I look forward to finding out what systems biology is all about.
  Lengauer: Communities much more willing to talk across communal boundaries.
  Shamir: When computation becomes an essential and basic part of biology. The next generation is already getting an integrated education – a great advantage.
  Haussler: Basic science issues – how genomes work. We are a long way from understanding but have an extraordinary opportunity to sequence the genome. We’ll probably be building our own genomes some day. This is both exciting and scary.
  Waterman: If I was getting my PhD today and entering a post doc I would look for an experimental lab like the Carols Bustamante lab to work with single cell molecules. It’s just amazing what these little machines do. I find it very interesting.
  Apostolico: It is a bit dangerous when technology advances faster than you know how to use it.

After the questions by Pevzner the floor was opened to questions from the audience. Both Pevzner and Lengauer took the opportunity to make final observations before closing the meeting for the night:

Pevzner: A failure in computational educational biology has shown that 20 years has not changed much – every biologist should take introductions to algorithms and statistics. The divide between biologists and computer scientists will stay until every biologist takes such courses.
  Lengauer: Engineering deals with designs made for understanding. Here we are dealing with designs not made for understanding. “Data fitting” happens now, piece by piece working toward understanding. But this just emphasizes the humility and grandeur of what nature is able to accomplish vs. what man is able to accomplish.

The next RECOMB will descend upon the San Francisco Bay area of Northern California, April 21-25, 2007. Hosted by qb3, the California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research, a cooperative effort among private industry and three campuses of the University of California (Berkeley, Santa Cruz and San Francisco), RECOMB 2007 is being chaired by Terry Speed with the help of his local organizing team. All sessions will take place at the Marriott Oakland City Center hotel (in close proximity to the University of California, Berkeley, campus).

Visit www.RECOMB2007.com for news and updates, and see related article in this newsletter for key dates.