International Society for Computational Biology

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International Society for Computational Biology

Iscb logo.png

Founded 1997
Home Page International Society for Computational Biology

Current ISCB Officers

President Burkhard Rost, Technical University Munich
Vice-president Terry Gaasterland, University of California, San Diego
Vice-president Michal Linial, Hebrew University of Jerusalem
Vice-president Christine Orengo, University College London
Treasurer Reinhard Schneider, University of Luxembourg
Secretary Scott Markel, Accelrys
Executive Director Diane E. Kovats

The International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) is a scholarly society for researchers in computational biology and bioinformatics. Founded in 1997, the society's core mission is to contribute to the scientific understanding of living systems through computation.

ISCB seeks to communicate the significance of computational biology to the larger scientific community, to governmental organizations, and to the general public; the society serves its members locally, nationally, and internationally; it provides guidance for scientific policies, publications, meetings, and distributes information through multiple platforms. ISCB organizes the Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology, ISMB, conference every year, a growing number of smaller, more regionally or topically focused annual and bi-annual conferences, and has two official journals: PLoS Computational Biology and Bioinformatics. The society awards two prizes each year, the Overton Prize[1] and the ISCB Senior Scientist Awards,[2][3] and it inducts Fellows, to honor members that have distinguished themselves through outstanding contributions to the fields of computational biology and bioinformatics.



In 1996 the ISMB conference steering committee thought it would be useful to start a scientific society focused on managing all scientific, organizational, and financial aspects of the ISMB conference and to provide a forum for scientists to address the emerging role of computers in the biological sciences. The International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB), was legally incorporated in the US in 1997 with Larry Hunter, currently director of the Center for Computational Pharmacology at the University of Colorado School of Medicine and the university's computational bioscience program, elected as its inaugural president by the members of the founding board of directors: Pankaj Agarwal, Russ Altman, Douglas Brutlag, Dominic Clark, Keith Dunker, Janice Glasgow, Rick Lathrop, Peter Karp, Asai Kiyoshi, Teri Klein, Chris Overton, Christos Ouzounis, David Searls, Jude Shavlik, Randall Smith, David States, Alfonso Valencia, and Shoshana Wodak.

Lawrence Hunter, founder of ISCB.

During the next few years the focus remained on management of the annual ISMB conference, whose 1993 attendance of approximately 200 researchers had more than tripled by 1999. That year, Bioinformatics (previously published as CABIOS) by Oxford University Press became the official journal of the ISCB. Dues-paying members of the society gained two tangible benefits of membership: ISMB conference registration discounts and an online subscription to the journal.

The new millennium brought in a new president in Russ Altman, currently chair of Stanford University's department of bioengineering and director of the program in biomedical informatics, and over 1,200 delegates attended ISMB 2000 in San Diego. Altman took steps to formalize some of the legal and administrative aspects of ISCB before passing the torch in 2002 to Philip E. Bourne, currently professor in the department of pharmacology and Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of California, San Diego. Bourne gave ISCB a more permanent home at UCSD, which included the university's commitment to host the society through at least 2005 and its offer of staff support. Although Bourne served as president for only one year, he left his mark on the society by increasing the interaction with regional groups and conference organizers worldwide, and through an improved web presence. During his tenure, membership grew to more than 1,700 researchers, and the 2002 ISMB conference in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada welcomed over 1,600 attendees.


Michael Gribskov, then at UCSD's San Diego Supercomputer department and now at the department of biological sciences at Purdue University, was elected president in 2003. That year ISMB took place in Brisbane, Australia, which was the first time the meeting was held outside North America or Europe. This phase brought many uncertainties for the society when attendance dropped to one half of budgeted expectations due to travel fears and restrictions related to outbreaks of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome or SARS, the start of the war in Iraq, and the location, which broke with the pattern of North American and European venues. Although scientifically successful, the financial losses of ISMB 2003 left ISCB financially unstable for the first time in its history.

In part to reduce ISCB's dependence on ISMB proceeds to fund the society's activities and annual overhead costs, a pilot regional conference was hosted in the US to gauge interest in smaller, localized meetings. In December 2003, the Rocky Mountain Regional Bioinformatics conference, Rocky 1, was launched in Aspen, Colorado. The meeting has been held annually ever since and now attracts attendees from around the world.

In 2005, as part of the society's discussions about the role of publications and the society's official journal, accompanied by the advent of open access publishing, the ISCB announced a partnership with the Public Library of Science and launched a new open access journal, PLoS Computational Biology. The journal is intended to emphasize computational methods applied to living systems at all scales, from molecular biology to patient populations and ecosystems, and which offer insight for experimentalists. Past president and past publications committee chair Phil Bourne served as the new publication's editor-in-chief and he remains in that role. The first issue of the new journal coincided with the opening day of ISMB 2005, held in Detroit, Michigan.

Burkhard Rost, then professor in the department of biochemistry and molecular biophysics at Columbia University and now the Alexander von Humboldt Professor and chair of bioinformatics and computational biology, computational sciences at the Technical University Munich, succeeded Michael Gribskov as president in 2007 and has been reelected twice with a current term expiration set for January 2013. Under his tenure the ISMB/ECCB 2007 conference in Vienna, Austria, chaired by Thomas Lengauer of the Max-Planck Institute for Informatics, and co-chaired by Burkhard Rost and Peter Schuster of the University of Vienna, was further expanded to include a total of eight parallel tracks, and the 2007 conference attendance of approximately 1,700 was back on track with expectations. Vienna as a destination and the Austria Center Vienna were both so well received by the conference organizers and attendees alike that it was selected to host the 2011 conference as well, which is a first for the ISMB series that had never before repeated a location.

In 2010 the first ISCB Latin America was held in Montevideo, Uruguay.


A president, an executive committee, and a board of directors comprise ISCB's scientific leadership, drawing on distinguished, internationally renowned researchers who are elected for their term by the general society membership. The executive director leads the ISCB staff and supports a diverse set of committees dedicated to specific issues that are important to the computational biology and bioinformatics community, including education, policy, and publications.


ISCB has the following aims:[citation needed]

  • Intellectual Leadership
  • Advocacy
  • Financial Stability
  • Governance


ISCB grew out of the need for a stable organizational structure to support the planning and manage the finances of the Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology (ISMB) conference series, which had its start in 1993. ISMB is ISCB's most prominent annual activity, toward which a significant portion of resources are dedicated each year. Since 2004, when ISMB is held in Europe, it is held jointly with the European Conference on Computational Biology (ECCB).

ISCB began expanding its conference offerings with the introduction of the annual Rocky Mountain Bioinformatics Conference series in 2003, the annual Conference on Semantics in Healthcare and Life Sciences (CSHALS) in 2008, the bi-annual ISCB Africa ASBCB Bioinformatics Conference in 2009, and the bi-annual ISCB Latin America Conference in 2010. Future plans include the development of an ISCB Asia Conference.

In addition to ISCB-organized conferences, the society supports other computational biology and bioinformatics conferences through affiliations and sponsorships. These include the annual Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing (PSB), the annual international conference on Research in Computational Molecular Biology (RECOMB), the annual Asia-Pacific Bioinformatics Network's International Conference on Computational Biology or InCoB, and the annual general meeting of the European Molecular Biology Network or EMBnet.

Official journals[edit]

  • Bioinformatics was the society's journal from 1998–2004, and ISMB Proceedings have been published there since 2001. In 2009 Bioinformatics again became an official journal of ISCB.
  • In 2015, ISCB announced the formation of the ISCB Community Journal, a dedicated channel on the F1000Research online publishing platform, providing members the opportunity to openly publish research articles regardless of their format or perceived impact.[4][5]

Affiliated organizations[edit]

The ISCB has several affiliated organizations (mainly regional), including:



  • Asia Pacific Bioinformatics Network
  • Association for Medical and Bioinformatics Singapore
  • Bioinformatics in India
  • Japanese Society for Bioinformatics
  • Korean Society for Bioinformatics (KSBI)
  • Bioinformatics Society Taiwan

Europe and Middle East

  • Czech Free and Open Bioinformatics Association (FOBIA)
  • Israeli Society for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
  • Bioinformatics Italian Society (BITS)
  • German Informatics Society—professional group: Informatics for Life Sciences
  • Society for Bioinformatics in the Nordic Countries (SocBiN)
  • Netherlands Bioinformatics Center (NBIC)
  • European Molecular Biology Network (EMBnet)

North America

  • Bay Area Bioinformatics Discussion Group
  • Boston Area Molecular Biology Computer Types (BAMBCT)
  • Central Valley Bioinformatics Interest Group (CVBIG)
  • Great Lakes Bioinformatics Consortium
  • Midsouth Computational Biology and Bioinformatics Society (MCBIOS)
  • Ohio Bioinformatics Consortium
  • Oklahoma Bioinformatics Society (OKBIOS)
  • Rocky Mountain Regional Center for Computational Biology
  • Vancouver Bioinformatics User Group
  • Mexico EMBnet (Collado)
  • New England Bioinformatics Group (NEBiG)
  • University of Texas at Austin, Society of Computational Biology

South America

  • Brazilian Association for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology

ISCB Fellows, Officers, and Other Groups[edit]


See also Category:Fellows of the International Society for Computational Biology.

Class of 2015 Class of 2014 Class of 2013 Class of 2012 Class of 2011 Class of 2010 Class of 2009
Rolf Apweiler Amos Bairoch Pierre Baldi Bonnie Berger Michael Ashburner Russ Altman David Haussler
Cyrus Chothia Ewan Birney David Eisenberg Peter Karp Philip E. Bourne Lawrence Hunter David Lipman
Julio Collado-Vides Nir Friedman Minoru Kanehisa Jill Mesirov Søren Brunak Eugene Myers Webb Miller
Mark Gerstein Robert Gentleman Satoru Miyano Pavel Pevzner Richard Durbin Chris Sander David Sankoff
Des Higgins Andrej Sali Ruth Nussinov Ron Shamir Gary Stormo Temple Smith
Thomas Lengauer Steven Salzberg Martin Vingron Alfonso Valencia Janet Thornton
Michael Levitt Gunnar von Heijne Michael Waterman
Burkhard Rost

Current Board of Directors[edit]

  • Teresa Attwood
  • Alex Bateman
  • Bonnie Berger
  • Judith A. Blake
  • Erik Bongcam-Rudloff
  • Alan Christoffels
  • Bruno Gaeta
  • Paul Horton
  • Janet Kelso
  • Richard H. Lathrop
  • Thomas Lengauer
  • Fran Lewitter
  • Jill P. Mesirov
  • Guilherme Oliveira
  • Predrag Radivojac
  • Hershel Safer
  • Avinash Shanmugam
  • Donna Slonim
  • Tan Tin Wee
  • Anna Tramontano
  • Olga Troyanskaya
  • Alfonso Valencia
  • Lonnie R. Welch

Past Presidents[edit]

Past Executive Committee[edit]

  • Barbara Bryant 2005-2007
  • Michael Gribskov 2002-2003
  • Christopher Rawlings 1998-1999
  • Teri Klein 2000-2002
  • David Rocke 2002-2009
  • David States 1997-2000
  • Philip Bourne 2001-2002
  • Barbara Bryant 2002-2005
  • Toni Kazic 2005-2006

Past Board of Directors[edit]

  • Thomas Abeel 2011-2013
  • Pankaj Agarwal 1997-1998
  • Russ Altman 1997-2005
  • Patricia C. Babbitt 2007-2009
  • Nir Ben-Tal 2008-2011
  • Jong Bhak 2009-2012
  • Philip Bourne 2001-2006
  • Steven E. Brenner 1998-2001
  • Søren Brunak 2001-2005
  • Douglas Brutlag 1997-1999
  • Barbara Bryant 1999-2008
  • Rita Casadio 2002-2009
  • Dominic Clark 1997-2000
  • Julio Collado-Vides 1999-2002
  • Manuel Corpas 2006-2007
  • Sandro de Souza 2006-2009
  • Keith Dunker 1997-2001
  • Nils Gehlenborg 2010-2011
  • Dietlind L. Gerloff 2000-2013
  • Janice Glasgow 1997-2000
  • Michael Gribskov 1999-2008
  • Roderic Guigo 2002-2006
  • Winston Hide 2001-2005
  • Desmond Higgins 1999-2002
  • Lawrence Hunter 1997-2007
  • Sorin Istrail 1998-2001
  • Minoru Kanehisa 2000-2004
  • Peter Karp 1997-2000
  • Kevin Karplus 2005-2011
  • Toni Kazic 2001-2006
  • Asai Kiyoshi 1997-1999
  • Eugene Kolker 1998-2000
  • Anders Krogh 1999-2002
  • Satoru Miyano 2004-2007
  • Eugene Myers 1998-2001
  • Goran Neshich 2002-2006
  • William Stafford Noble 2009-2012
  • Christos Ouzounis 1997-1999
  • Christian Overton 1997-2000
  • Vijaya Parthiban 2007-2008
  • Lucia Peixoto 2009-2010
  • Pavel Pevzner 1998-2001
  • Shoba Ranganathan 2002-2006
  • Christopher Rawlings 1998-2001
  • David Rocke 2002-2013
  • Chris Sander 1997-1998
  • David Searls 1997-1999
  • Jude Shavlik 1997-1998
  • Mona Singh 2008-2011
  • Randall Smith 1997-1998
  • Terry Speed 2005-2008
  • David States 1997-2004
  • Gary Stormo 2000-2004
  • Jean-Francois Tomb 2006-2009
  • Masaru Tomita 2000-2004
  • Lisa Vawter 2005-2008
  • Gunnar Von Heijne 1999-2002
  • Tandy Warnow 2001-2005
  • Michael Waterman 2001-2005
  • Liping Wei 2010-2013
  • Harel Weinstein 2007-2010
  • Shoshana Wodak 1997-1998
  • John Wooley 2008-2011
  • Cathy H. Wu 2000-2004
  • Hannah Xue 2008-2009


  1. ^ Fogg, Christiana N.; Kovats, Diane E. (2014). "International Society for Computational Biology Honors Dana Pe'er with Top Bioinformatics/Computational Biology Award for 2014". PLOS Computational Biology: e1003682. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi/1003682. 
  2. ^ Fogg, C. N.; Kovats, D. E. (2014). "2014 ISCB Accomplishment by a Senior Scientist Award: Gene Myers". PLoS Computational Biology 10 (5): e1003621. doi:10.1371/journal.pcbi.1003621. PMID 24853264. 
  3. ^ Accomplishment by a Senior Scientist Award
  4. ^ "F1000Research to publish the ISCB Community Journal". Retrieved 30 April 2015. 
  5. ^ "ISCB/F1000 Press Release" (PDF). Retrieved 30 April 2015.