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Ethics and Professional Conduct Committee

Ethics and Professional Conduct Committee

The Ethics and Professional Conduct Committee (EPC) ensures that ISCB maintains the highest level of integrity in Society activities. The EPC has responsibility for the implementation of the ISCB guidelines and policies, specifically, ISCB’s code of conduct and ethics policies and exhibiting and sponsorship guidelines.  The EPC normally is a reactive committee, entering a dispute by request of a disputant.  However, from time to time it should consider ethical matters that go beyond interpersonal conflict and to make appropriate recommendations to the ISCB Board of Directors. Such considerations may be initiated by others or by the EPC itself.

Terry Gaasterland, Yves Moreau
Saurabh Sinha
Dimitri Perrin
Phil Bourne
Lenore Cowen
Francisco De La Vega
Farzana Rahman


The Ethics Committee shall be a committee of five members representing a broad spectrum of membership of the Society. They shall be appointed by the Board of Directors and shall have three year staggered terms. Each year one or two of the continuing members is appointed by the Board of Directors to be Chair for that year.

Scope of Activities

The Ethics and Professional Conduct Committee serves primarily as an agency for conciliation, as a mediating body seeking for its standards "reasonable behavior expected of an active member in good standing of the computational biology community". This includes the expectation that normal professional standards are respected in interaction with students and colleagues and in regard for the intellectual work of others. Most of the cases the Committee may receive will be colored in shades of grey. The EPC shall attempt to facilitate an equitable resolution by drawing on the collective experience, judgment, and wisdom of its membership.

The EPC has neither staff, legal expertise, nor budget.  Therefore, it does not have the resources to participate in judicial proceedings. Its only role can be as a committee of professional peers.

The EPC has little direct power beyond the moral force of the collective judgment of its membership. The EPC may bring a serious transgression to the attention of appropriate university and/or institutional officials. The EPC may also bring a matter to the attention of its parent Board of Directors. On occasion, if conciliation is not possible, a public statement might be issued in the form of an announcement in the ISCB notices.

It is understood that the conflict resolution procedures described below are not legally binding upon parties bringing conflicts to the EPC. However, EPC offers its services in the belief that members of the profession are best suited to resolve disputes involving professional ethics. Parties understand that the ISCB will not take legal action to support the claims of any parties, which are the subject of proceedings under these procedures. All parties are urged to find mutually satisfactory settlements to their conflicts. At any time, if a settlement is agreed to between the parties, then the proceedings will cease.  The EPC will simply report to the Board of Directors that a case was handled and resolved. It is expected that almost all cases will be handled by the Standard Procedure described in the ISCB Code of Conduct. In rare cases, the Formal Procedure may be invoked.

The Committee’s access to legal counsel shall be through the Secretary or the Executive Director and not, in the first instance, directly with Society legal counsel.

Procedure Outline for the Ethics and Professional Conduct Committee (EPC)

Case Submission and Initial Review

  • Request Initiation:
    • Cases may be initiated by a disputant or brought to the attention of the EPC by others or by the committee itself.
  • Documentation Submission:
    • Disputants submit relevant documentation and information to the EPC.
  • Initial Review:
    • The EPC conducts an initial review to determine if the case falls within its jurisdiction and if there are grounds for further investigation.

Informal Resolution (Standard Procedure)

  • Mediation:
    • The EPC facilitates informal resolution through mediation, encouraging parties to find mutually satisfactory settlements.
  • Consultation:
    • The EPC may seek input from relevant parties, experts, or stakeholders to inform its decision-making process.
  • Recommendation:
    • If a settlement is reached, the EPC reports to the Board of Directors that the case was handled and resolved.

Formal Resolution (Rare Cases)

  • Formal Procedure Invocation:
    • If informal resolution is not possible or appropriate, the Formal Procedure may be invoked.
  • Investigation:
    • A formal investigation is conducted, gathering evidence and testimonies.
  • Deliberation:
    • The EPC deliberates based on the findings of the investigation.
  • Recommendation:
    • The EPC makes recommendations to the Board of Directors based on its deliberations.

Reporting and Follow-Up

  • Reporting to Board of Directors:
    • The EPC reports its findings and recommendations to the Board of Directors.
  • Closure:
    • If a settlement is reached at any stage, the proceedings cease, and the EPC reports to the Board of Directors accordingly.
  • Documentation:
    • All proceedings and outcomes are documented for record-keeping and transparency purposes.

Confidentiality and Transparency

  • Confidentiality:
    • The EPC ensures confidentiality throughout the process to protect the privacy of all parties involved.
  • Transparency:
    • While maintaining confidentiality, the EPC aims to ensure transparency in its processes and outcomes to uphold the integrity of the Society.