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Søren Brunak, Debora Marks, Burkhard Rost, and Serafim Batzoglou Named 2016 ISCB Award Winners

The International Society of Computational Biology (ISCB) is pleased to announce the winners of the 2016 Accomplishment by a Senior Scientist Award, Overton Prize, Outstanding Contributions to ISCB Award, and the Innovator Award. Søren Brunak of the Technical University of Denmark is the winner of the Accomplishment by a Senior Scientist Award. Debora Marks of Harvard Medical School is the Overton Prize winner. Burkhard Rost of the Technical University of Munich has been selected as the winner of the Outstanding Contributions to ISCB Award, and Serafim Batzoglou of Stanford University is the inaugural winner of the ISCB Innovator Award.

Søren Brunak
The ISCB Accomplishment by a Senior Scientist Award recognizes leaders in the fields of computational biology and bioinformatics for their significant research, education, and service contributions. Søren Brunak is being honored as the 2016 winner of the Senior Scientist Award.

Brunak is Director of the Center for Sequence Analysis at the Technical University of Denmark and is a pioneer in the field of bioinformatics. He founded the Center for Sequence Analysis at the Technical University of Denmark in 1993, one of the first departments dedicated exclusively to bioinformatics. Brunak’s research is deeply rooted in combining computer science, physics, biology and biotechnology, and his early work on neural networks and other predictive methods led to the development of several widely-used bioinformatics methods. Brunak has made significant contributions to the field of network biology, particularly his work on the analysis of the evolution of protein complexes during the cell cycle. He has also been deeply involved in many large-scale studies of human genomes, ancient genomes and metagenomics. More recently, Brunak has developed methods to extract information about diseases and drugs from medical records, and he is studying the relationship between comorbidities, and the influence of different drugs on disease progression.

Debora Marks
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. Debora Marks is being recognized as the 2016 winner of the Overton Prize.

Marks is an Assistant Professor of Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School and is an emerging leader in the field of computational biology. She has used her background in mathematics and computational biology to create an interdisciplinary research program that develops computational methods aimed at tackling fundamental biological questions. Marks’s early work revealed the extent by which microRNAs regulate gene expression, and these results have been critical for advancing the development of small RNA therapeutics. Marks has recently made significant contributions to understanding protein structure based solely on sequence information.

Burkhard Rost
The Outstanding Contributions to ISCB Award recognizes an ISCB member for his or her outstanding service contributions toward the betterment of ISCB through exemplary leadership, education, and service. This award debuted in 2015, and the 2016 winner is Burkhard Rost.

Burkhard Rost is the Chair of Bioinformatics at the Technical University of Munich and past President of ISCB. Rost has been a seminal force in the formation and growth of ISCB since its inception through his many years of service, which include serving on the founding Board of Directors, serving as ISCB President from 2007 to 2014, and co-chairing and shaping ISCB’s flagship meeting, ISMB (Intelligent Systems of Molecular Biology), for several years. As an example, his highly successful Highlights Track has greatly enhanced the meeting. Rost increased the worldwide reach of ISCB by starting a series of international meetings in places such as Africa and South America, and he advocated for the greater involvement of ISCB trainees through the formation of the ISCB Student Council. Rost’s contributions to computational biology research have also been recognized by his election as a 2015 ISCB Fellow.

Serafim Batzoglou
2016 marks the launch of the ISCB Innovator Award, which is given to a leading scientist who is within two decades of receiving his or her PhD degree, has consistently made outstanding contributions to the field and continues to forge new directions. Serafim Batzoglou, Professor of Computer Science at Stanford University, is the inaugural winner of the ISCB Innovator Award.

Batzoglou has made many critical research contributions throughout his career, including his early work developing the ARACHNE algorithm and program for the assembly of whole genomes from shotgun sequencing data, which was critical to the efforts of the Human Genome Consortium. He has been a leader in the field of comparative genomics and has also developed widely-used tools for multiple sequence alignments including LAGAN and multi-LAGAN.

ISCB will present the Senior Scientist Award, Overton Prize, Outstanding Contributions to ISCB Award, and Innovator Award at ISMB 2016, which is being held in Orlando, Florida on July 8 -12, 2016. Brunak, Marks, and Batzoglou will also present keynote addresses during the conference.

Full bibliographical articles profiling the award recipients will be available in the ISMB 2016 focus issue of the ISCB newsletter later this year, as well as the ISCB Society Pages in PLOS Computational Biology, OUP Bioinformatics, and ISCB Community Journal.