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 International Society for Computational Biology

ISCB Announces 2020 Award Recipients
Judith Blake, Xiaole Shirley Liu, Jian Peng, Steven Salzberg


The International Society of Computational Biology (ISCB) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Accomplishments by a Senior Scientist Award, Overton Prize, Innovator Award, and Outstanding Contributions to ISCB Award. "The ISCB awards program highlights scientists in our field who are beacons at the junior, mid-term and senior career stage and scientists who have shown extraordinary commitment to our Society and the field at large,” said ISCB President, Thomas Lengauer. “Our awards committee under the leadership of Ron Shamir has thoughtfully and in an established process selected this year's awardees and has come up with a very impressive slate. I congratulate all award winners for their achievements and the awards committee for doing a fabulous job."
 
Steven L. Salzberg, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, is the winner of the Accomplishments by a Senior Scientist Award. Jian Peng, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is the Overton Prize winner. Xiaole Shirley Liu, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard School of Public Health, is the winner of the ISCB Innovator Award. Judith Blake, Jackson Laboratories, has been selected as the winner of the Outstanding Contributions to ISCB Award.


Steven L. Salzberg, PhD -  Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, 2020 Recipient of ISCB Accomplishments by a Senior Scientist Award Steven L. Salzberg, PhD
Bloomberg Distinguished Professor, Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, and Biostatistics,
Director, Center for Computational Biology, McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine
 
Recipient of ISCB Accomplishments by a Senior Scientist Award


The Senior Scientist Accomplishment Award recognizes a member of the computational biology community who is more than two decades post-degree and has made major contributions to the field of computational biology. Steven L. Salzberg is being honored as the 2020 winner of the ISCB Accomplishments by a Senior Scientist Award.­­
 
Steven L. Salzberg, is a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Computer Science, and Biostatistics at Johns Hopkins University, where he also is the Director of the Center for Computational Biology. Dr. Salzberg received his Ph.D in Computer Science, Harvard University in 1989.
 
His group’s research focuses on the development of new computational methods for analysis of DNA from the latest sequencing technologies.  Over the years, he and his group have developed and applied software to many problems in gene finding, genome assembly, comparative genomics, evolutionary genomics, and sequencing technology itself, taking new challenges and developing multiple novel, high-impact computational methods, many of which are in extremely broad use.
 
Dr. Salzberg is one of the most accomplished computational biologists in the world today. Over the past 20 years he has created, over and over again, strikingly innovative computational methods that addressed critical needs in genome analysis. One of his trademarks has been the development of algorithms that are not only accurate but also incredibly efficient, often representing dramatic leaps forward in technology. He has also been a leader in building computational methods to make novel biological discoveries, in species ranging from viruses to bacteria to animals. All of Salzberg’s bioinformatics systems have been released as free, open-source software, and he won the 2013 Benjamin Franklin Award for Open Science for his advocacy of open-source software and of open sharing of genome sequence data. 


 
Jian Peng, PhD,  University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2020 Recipient of the ISCB Overton Prize Jian Peng, PhD
Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, College of Medicine (by courtesy), Institute of Genomic Biology (affiliate)
Cancer Center at Illinois (affiliate), National Center of Supercomputing and Applications (affiliate), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
 
Recipient of the ISCB Overton Prize

The Overton Prize recognizes the research, education, and service accomplishments of early to mid-career scientists who are emerging leaders in computational biology and bioinformatics. The Overton Prize was instituted in 2001 to honor the untimely loss of G. Christian Overton, a leading bioinformatics researcher and a founding member of the ISCB Board of Directors. Jain Peng is being recognized as the 2020 winner of the Overton Prize.
 
Jian Peng is an Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Since his undergraduate degree in China, Jian Peng has pioneered the application of deep learning techniques to computational biology, including protein structure prediction, biological network analysis, and drug discovery, by developing highly innovative methods to successfully address non-trivial challenges.
 
Jian Peng has spearheaded some of the most impressive contributions to our field such as the application of deep learning techniques to protein contact map prediction, his invention of a novel computational framework for simultaneous dimensionality reduction of multiple heterogeneous biological networks, enabling state-of-the-art function prediction and drug discovery and the development of TransposeNet, an approach that translates discoveries from model organisms to human, for which adequate approaches did not previously exist.
 
Dr. Peng has established himself as internationally-renowned researcher in structure-based, genome scale prediction. 

Xiaole Shirley Liu, PhD, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, 2020 Recipient of ISCB Innovator AwardXiaole Shirley Liu, PhD
Professor, Biostatistics, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health; Co-director, Center for Functional Cancer Epigenetics, Dana-Farber Cancer Institute
 
Recipient of ISCB Innovator Award

The year 2016 marked the launch of the ISCB Innovator Award, which is given to a leading scientist who is within two decades of receiving the PhD degree, has consistently made outstanding contributions to the field, and continues to forge new directions. Xiaole Shirley Liu is the 2020 winner of the ISCB Innovator Award.
 
Xiaole Shirley Liu has been an innovative and prolific computational cancer biologist. Her research focuses on algorithm development and integrative modeling of high throughput data to understand the specificity and function of regulator genes in tumor development, progression, drug response and resistance. With many contributions to the field, she was a natural choice for this year’s award.  
 
In computational biology, her laboratory developed widely used algorithms and tools for transcription factor motif finding, ChIP-chip/seq, chromatin accessibility profiles, CRISPR screen analyses, and tumor immune characterization. Many of her algorithms helped the community adopt new genomics technologies.
 
In transcription and epigenetic gene regulation, Dr. Liu has been a pioneer in using chromatin dynamics to predict trans-factors and cis-elements involved in biological processes and diseases. As a member of the mod/ENCODE consortium she helped establish best practices in ChIP-chip/seq. She and colleagues generated the first high throughput nucleosome map in the human genome, and identified the chromatin signature of embryonic pluripotency. Her work significantly advanced the understanding of the roles of many genomic and proteomic elements in cancer.
 
In translational cancer research, Dr. Liu contributed to the discovery of drug response biomarkers, drug resistance mechanisms, and effective combination therapies. Through analyses of large-scale compound and genetic screens as well as tumor profiling cohorts, her group revealed the functions of steroid hormone therapies, epigenetic inhibitors, gamma secretase inhibitor receptor tyrosine kinase inhibitors, and immune checkpoint inhibitors in different cancers. 

Judith Blake, PhD, The Jackson Laboratory, 2020 Recipient of the ISCB Outstanding Contributions Award Judith Blake, PhD
Professor, The Jackson Laboratory
 
Recipient of the ISCB Outstanding Contributions Award

The Outstanding Contributions to ISCB Award recognizes an ISCB member for outstanding service contributions toward the betterment of ISCB through exemplary leadership, education, and service. The 2020 recipient of the Outstanding Contributions to ISCB Award is Judith Blake.
 
Judith Blake is a Professor at The Jackson Laboratory.   Blake is one of the leaders and founding principal investigators of the Gene Ontology (GO) Consortium, which provides controlled structured vocabularies for molecular biology and has had tremendous impact on both molecular and computational biology. These are fundamental building blocks in a wide variety of bioinformatics and computational applications. Her research is in the area of functional and comparative genome informatics. She develops systems to integrate genetic, genomic and phenotypic information, and has had significant influence on semantic systems use in biology and on bio-curation as a field.
 
Dr. Blake is a prominent and loyal member of the ISCB, who has served on its Board of Directors and as the ISCB representative to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology. She chairs the ISCB Public Affairs and Policy committee,  while performing a variety of other roles on program and review committees.  
 
Dr. Blake is being recognized for her many years of significant contributions to both ISCB and the broad bioinformatics and bio-curation communities.

ISCB will present the Accomplishments by a Senior Scientist Award, Overton Prize, Innovator Award and Outstanding Contributions to ISCB Award, at ISMB 2020 (www.iscb.org/ismb2020), which will take place in Montreal, Quebec, Canada, July 12-16, 2020 where, in addition, Peng, Liu, and Salzberg will present keynote addresses during the conference.
 
Full bibliographical articles profiling the award recipients will be available in the ISMB 2020 focus issue of the ISCB newsletter later this year, as well as the ISCB Society Pages in OUP Bioinformatics, and F1000 Research ISCB Community Journal.