All posts by NicoleVasilevsky


The election of the new International Society for Biocuration Executive Committee (ISB EC) will be held from September 30 – October 07, 2019. The Executive Committee is composed of nine (9) members, each with a 3-year term. Being a member of the Executive Committee is a great way to become directly involved with the work of our society, and contribute to the decisions that are taken on behalf of the biocuration community. We would like to encourage all members interested in running for election to get involved in the process.

Serving on the ISB EC minimally involves attending monthly (1 hour)  teleconference meetings, following up on any action items from meetings, and  promoting the ISB’s activity to members and non-members. Examples of activities performed by EC members include reviewing micro-grant submissions, preparing call for participation for hosting Biocuration meetings, preparing materials for the ISB election, monitoring ISB mail and maintaining the website. There are specific positions such as Chair, Secretary and Treasurer that will require a larger time commitment, as they will be in charge of leading the steps of the EC and by extension the membership.

This year, there are two (2) open positions, as the terms of Andrew Su and Pete McQuilton will come to completion. (The current ISB EC members are here.)

2018 Electoral Process

A) The Nominating Committee:

A Nominating Committee (NC) has been formed to oversee the electoral process, to review applications, and establish the final list of candidates. We are very grateful for their assistance with the execution of this election. The members of the 2019 Nominating Committee are:

  • Marc Robinson-Rechavi 
  • Susan Clew
  • Rachael Huntley
  • Zhang Zhang
  • Raja Mazumder

B) Instructions to Candidates: 

  1. If you would like to run for a position on the Executive Committee, you must first register your intent with the NC by emailing
  2. Please fill out this form by 30 August 2019, which includes a ‘statement of intent‘, a brief biographical sketch, and a ‘conflict of interests‘ statement describing any activities, memberships of other associations, editorial positions on journals, etc. (Please email us at if you are unable to access this form.)

C) Timeline:

  • Nominations will be received until 30 August 2019.
  • The NC will review all candidacies and share their selections with the ISB Executive Committee by 13 September 2019.
  • Candidates must be announced to the membership and on website (with letters of intent) by 27 September 2019.
  • Voting will take place online over the course of one week from 30 September – 07 October 2019. (Further details about the voting process will be shared soon). Lorna Richardson will act as election officer.
  • Only paying members* with registration fees cleared on or before 27 September 2019 will be allowed to vote. If you pay your registration via bank transfer, please allow at least 2-3 working days for the payment to be processed.

*Note – please contact us at if you have issues with registering or renewing your membership. Known issues exist with our membership payment system.

The Nominating Committee is looking forward to receiving your applications!

Qaaifah Gillani Syed and Zannatun Nayema awarded travel fellowships to BC2 conference

Congratulations to Qaaifah Gillani Syed and Zannatun Nayema, who have been selected for the [BC]2 Travel Fellowships.

Qaaifah Gillani Syed (University of Kashmir, IN)
Qaaifah Gillani Syed is a PhD student in the group of Shaida Andrabi in the Department of Biochemistry at the University of Kashmir in India. Her research is focusing on Cancer Biology and by using different bioinformatics tools, she is studying the mitotic and oncogenic role of different kinases.
Zannatun Nayema (Kanazawa University, JP)
Zannatun Nayema is a first-year PhD student in the group of Atsushi Tajima in the Department of Bioinformatics and Genomics at the Kanazawa University in Japan. Her main research focus is on the analysis of Genome Wide Association Studies connected to the Metabolic syndrome (a cluster of conditions that increases the risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes) and polygenic risk score analyses.

Read more about their fellowships here. Read the announcement about the travel fellowship opportunity here.

Apply for travel fellowship to [BC]2 Basel Computational Biology Conference

ISB is happy to announce that it will provide two travel fellowships to current ISB members in the amount of 500 CHF (approx. USD $500) to attend the [BC]2Basel Computational Biology Conference, from September 10-11, 2019 at the Congress Centre in Basel, Switzerland.

To apply, and for more information, click here. Note, you must be a member* of the ISB to apply. The applicant must submit an accompanying letter explaining why s/he is requesting travel funds and how s/he envisions that attending the [BC]2 conference will benefit her/his career.

Application materials should be sent via email to with the subject line ‘ISB Travel Fellowships to [BC]2 2019′ by Sunday, 16 June 2019, 23:59 CET.

Notification of award will be sent via email on 24 June, 2019 and announced on the ISB and [BC]2 website after acceptance of the award.

Students, junior curators, curators from low-income countries, and curators from countries suffering from natural disasters are encouraged to apply.

The [BC]2 Basel Computational Biology Conference is the key computational biology event in Switzerland and one of the major bioinformatics events in Europe. It unites scientists working in a broad range of disciplines, including bioinformatics, computational biology, and systems biology. The conference will feature presentations of latest research results, workshops, tutorials, poster sessions, and keynote lectures by international experts providing a prime opportunity to learn about cutting-edge research in computational biology and bioinformatics, and to network with other members of our community.

This year’s thematic focus is on the use of “Big Data in Molecular Medicine” with plenary sessions on single-cell data, evolutionary medicine, clinical population genomics, systems biology of disease and multi-level data integration. Tutorials and workshops will focus on a variety of topics such as “Introduction and advanced usage of machine learning for biological problems”, “Handling and accessing genomic data”, “Analysis of single cell data” and “Analysis of viral and bacterial genomic data”.

In 2019, [BC]2 will take place in the context of Basel Life – Europe’s leading congress in the Life Sciences – and participants are free to attend all sessions of Basel Life including the EMBO meeting on “Next-generation molecular medicine”.

Click below for more details on:

*We have recently been experiencing some technical difficulties with our membership registration system. Please contact us at if you have any issues. If you are having difficulties with renewing or registering for membership, are still encouraged and eligible to apply for the [BC]2 travel fellowship.

Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) at Biocuration 2019

The workshop on ‘Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI)’ was chaired by Executive Committee member and GigaScience’s, Mary Ann Tuli. The introductory slides explained what these terms mean and how they are being embraced by scientific institutes in different countries. This was followed by a more in-depth and very informative presentation by the invited speaker Dr Saher Ahmed, head of EDI at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, Cambridge, UK. Dr. Ahmed discussed gender discrepancies in the workplace, and highlighted some efforts at Sanger to address these issues, such as pay transparency, changes to their leave policies, and creating a family-friendly workplace.

The remaining time was spent on some lively discussion by the 30 attendees, exchanging views on the gender pay gap, maternity, paternity & carers leave, cultural differences in working practices and accessibility. As an outcome of this workshop, attendees agreed there is a need for the ISB to create an EDI subcommittee and that this workshop should be held at subsequent Biocuration meetings. The EDI subcommittee is currently being formed, and the exact roles are to be defined, but they will address issues including a code of conduct amongst the Society as a whole and at conferences, and accessibility at conferences and for ISB activities.

Image credit: George Georghiou

Apply now for PgCert in Biocuration at Cambridge University

This one year, masters’ level course has been jointly designed by EMBL-EBI and Cambridge University, with input from members of this society.
It has been designed to be studies around full time employment – the course consist of 3 modules, each comprised of a 3 day face to face workshop followed by 8-10 weeks of study offsite, coordinated using the University online learning system.

For further details and links to apply please visit the website:

Applications for this year close on the 17th May, with the course starting in October 2019.

If you have any queries please do not hesitate to get in touch.

Anne Morgat and Val Wood – recipients of the 2019 biocuration awards

It is our great pleasure to announce the recipients of the 2019 biocuration awards

Dr. Anne Morgat from the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics for the Biocuration Career Award. Anne has worked for over 15 years on the development of resources and vocabularies for the description of enzymatic reactions and metabolic pathways, such as UniPathway and Rhea, and their integration in UniProtKB.

Dr. Val Wood from the University of Cambridge for the Exceptional Contributions to Biocuration Award. Val leads the Model Organism Database for the fission yeast PomBase. Her team has made essential contributions to the Gene Ontology (GO) consortium, from the ontology development, through annotations and quality control, as well as informatics methods. She has been a huge innovator in the biocuration field, pioneering community curation with the CANTO tool, and developing Fission Yeast Phenotype Ontology (FYPO), a cellular phenotype ontology, to annotate phenotypes of mutant alleles.

Congratulations to Anne and Val!

Nominations for 2019 Biocuration Awards – now open

The International Society for Biocuration is happy to announce the 2019 Biocuration Awards.

In 2019 ISB will give two different awards to people who have made a significant impact in the field of biocuration. We welcome your nominations!

Description of the awards:

1) Award for Exceptional Contributions to Biocuration
ISB’s Exceptional Contributions Award recognizes a person who is a leader or a pioneer in the field of biocuration, and whose work has been fundamental to the advancement of biocuration.

2) Biocuration Career Award
The Biocuration Career Award recognizes biocurators in non-leadership positions who have made sustained contributions to the field of biocuration. Those who hold Principal Investigator or Group Leader positions are not eligible for the Biocuration Career Award.

Each award recipient will be invited to present a talk at the 2019 International Biocuration Conference that will take place in Cambridge (UK) in April (, with all expenses paid by ISB.

Nomination process:
Nominations will be reviewed by the 2019 ISB Awards Committee, comprised of one member of the ISB’s Executive Committee (ISB-EC) and six (6) additional members from the wider research community; these members were nominated by the ISB-EC based on diversity in area of expertise, organization type, role, and geographic location.

Who can nominate and/or be nominated?

  • Any currently active ISB member may nominate anyone in the field of biocuration, whether the potential nominee is a member of ISB or not.
  • Members of the ISB can make no more than 1 nomination per award.
  • Current members of the Executive Committee or the ISB Award Committee are not eligible for the awards.
  • Self-nominations will not be considered.

How to submit a nomination:

Nominations should be sent via email to the awards committee at with the subject line “Biocuration Awards Nominations”.

The nomination email should contain all the following fields:

  • Nominator details (name, e-mail and affiliation, member of ISB);
  • Nominee details (name, e-mail and affiliation);
  • Type of award nomination (either Exceptional Contributions to Biocuration or Biocuration Career Award);
  • Short list of scholarly contributions (a maximum of 50 words);
  • Brief description of why you are recommending this person (a maximum of 350 words).

Deadline for submitting nominations:  Friday 4-January-2019

ISB Newsletter – December 2018


This is the fourth quarter newsletter for the International Society for Biocuration, and the first newsletter from your new 2018/2019 ISB Executive Committee.

Welcome to the New Executive Committee!

I would like, on behalf of all the membership, to welcome our new committee members, Jane Lomax, Fredric Bastian and Mary-Ann Tuli, to their roles and to thank the outgoing members, Cecilia Arighi, Suzanna Lewis and Zhang Zhang for all their hard work. We look forward to a busy 12 months with both the  Biocuration Career Award and the Exceptional Contribution to Biocuration Award to be made, and conference travel fellowships, microgrants and exchange fellowships to be decided upon. We hope you will contact us with ideas on how we enhance the profile of Biocuration in the scientific community and take the opportunity to talk to members of the EC if you are attending the 2019 Biocuration conference in Cambridge UK.

We look forward to working with you, and for you, in 2018/19

Sandra Orchard, Chair

The Executive Committee

Submit your nominations for 2019 Biocuration Awards

In 2019 ISB will give two different awards to people who have made a significant impact in the field of biocuration. We welcome your nominations! The deadline is January 04, 2019.

More info here.

Postgraduate Certificate in Biocuration

This October, the University of Cambridge, UK was pleased to welcome its first cohort of students on the Postgraduate Certificate in Biocuration.

This Master’s level award is offered by the Institute of Continuing Education (ICE) and is completed in one year.

The course has been been designed to provide a route for new biocurators to develop a knowledge of the field and the skills required to work within it; provide those already working in the field with the opportunity to expand their knowledge and current skill set, and to provide a formally recognized qualification for Biocuration.

Most of the three module course is delivered via the VLE (Virtual Learning Environment), with a 3 or 4 day face-to-face workshop providing more hands on learning.

More information can be found here.

The first 3 day workshop took place at the magnificent Madingley Hall in Cambridge, UK in October, and introduced the students to the Principles of Biocuration. The workshop gave the students a chance to get to know each other and many of the course tutors. 

Microgrant Report: CIViC-hosted hackathon and curation workshop

By Kilannin Krysiak

The second CIViC-hosted hackathon and curation workshop was held as an open-format one and a half day pre-conference to the 2018 ASHG meeting in San Diego. Over 50 Attendees were present representing over 20 organizations and institutions from multiple countries. Session topics were suggested by attendees and CIViC team members and covered coding (hackathon) and issues in cancer variant representation and curation.

Read more here.

 Microgrant Report: 9th annual International Conference on Biological Ontologies (ICBO2018)

Ontologies for Health, Food, Nutrition and Environment: A partnership with BIG-Data and Analytics

By Pankaj Jaiswal

Oregon State University hosted the 9th annual International Conference on Biological Ontologies ( The theme of the ICBO2018 was Ontologies for Health, Food, Nutrition and Environment A partnership with BIG-Data and Analytics. ICBO2018 was a marquee event celebrating the 150th anniversary of the founding of Oregon State University (OSU150).

ICBO2018 concluded with a vote of thanks and the announcement for 10th ICBO (ICBO2019) to be held at the University at Buffalo, New York, USA. More info will be shared when it is available.

Read the full microgrant report on ICBO2018 here.

Announcement: 21st Genomic Standards Consortium Meeting

Dates: May 20-23, 2019

GSC 21st 3-day meeting will highlight the nexus of genomic standards and innovative methods in genomics. The meeting in charming Vienna will bring together people from many fields, including microbiology, microbial ecology, bioinformatics, medicine and system biology.

Registration will open January 14th, 2019

Recommendations for sustainable genomics and genetics databases for agriculture

The AGBioData Consortium is made up of scientists from 32 genetic, genomic and breeding databases in the agricultural sector.  A list of member databases can be seen here:

This group is developing standards and best practices that can be adopted uniformly across agricultural databases to increase both interoperability and user experience.  Focus areas include biocuration, metadata and persistence, ontologies, database platforms, programmatic access to data, and communication. A recent publication outlining AgBioData consortium recommendations is here:

​The challenge with standards and best practices is not defining them, but implementing them. They will be focused on implementation of standards and best practices in the next few years.

Congratulations to Ruth Lovering!

Ruth Lovering was recently promoted to a Professorial Research Fellow at UCL!

Ruth serves as the Lead of the UCL Functional Gene Annotation, a group which provides literature curation to support Gene Ontology (GO) and protein interaction data annotation. The Functional Gene Annotation team also teaches a bioinformatics module for the UCL Genetics Institute’s MSc in Genetics of Human Disease and an annual workshop on GO and other bioinformatics resources.

Save the date!
12th International Biocuration Conference

West Road concert hall in Cambridge UK will provide the location of the 12th International Biocuration Conference in April 7-10, 2019. This is an ideal forum for biocurators, developers and researchers to collaborate and promote their work within this active and growing community. Participants and submissions are welcome from academia, government and healthcare organizations, and industry. Please check, or follow #biocuration2019 on Twitter, for the latest information and details on how to register.

Register here

Abstract submissions and workshop proposals are due December 21st 2018. More info here.

Funding Opportunities from the ISB

The ISB offers microgrants to sponsor local and regional short meetings of ISB members to foster synergy of their work efforts. We’d like to promote requests for funding that address issues surrounding diversity or accessibility.

To promote collaboration and exchange between biocuration groups ISB offers fellowships. The fellowship will fund the visit of a biocurator to another laboratory or organization with extensive experience in biocuration.

Share your news and ideas with the ISB

Have an upcoming paper that you’d like to highlight for the ISB community? Let us know.

We welcome your feedback and ideas. Please contact us at


The results of the 2018 Elections of the ISB Executive Committee are in!

Congratulations to
Frederic Bastian, Sandra Orchard, Jane Lomax and Mary-Ann Tuli

Thank you to the ISB members who participated in this year’s election. A total of 97 members voted, out of the 198 current ISB members (49%).

Welcome Frederic, Jane and Mary-Ann as new members, and congratulations to Sandra for your re-election to a second term. Frederic, Jane and Mary-Ann will fill three open positions when the terms of Ceci Arighi, Suzi Lewis and Zhang Zhang come to completion on 31-October-2018.

Please join us in thanking Ceci, Suzi and Zhang for all their work over the past years!

We would like to also express our sincere gratitude to Lei Lui, who who considered volunteering his time as part of the ISB-EC this year.

We are also very grateful with the following ISB members who volunteered their time for a successful execution of the 2018 EC election:

2018 Nominating Committee:

  • Mike Cherry (Chair)
  • Fiona McCarthy
  • Lilly Winfree
  • Sue Bello
  • Luana Licata

Thank you again for participating in the 2018 ISB electoral process!

Your Colleagues at the ISB Executive Committee