Paola Roncaglia – ISB EC 2019 CANDIDATE

Current Position: Biocurator, ontologist, bioinformatician

Affiliation: Self-employed


My background is in wet-lab molecular biology and biophysics, followed by 18 years in bioinformatics and biocuration. After my degree in Biology at the University of Rome and my PhD in Biophysics/Neurobiology at the International School for Advanced Studies in Trieste, Italy, I was a GenBank curator at the NIH, then a data analyst at The Institute for Genomic Research (now JCVI) where I curated the genome sequences of two eukaryotic parasites and had my first encounter with ontology annotation. Back in Italy, I studied the genome of a model organism for aging, and co-organized training activities for a European program on neuronal systems biology. After that, I was responsible for data analysis at a microarray facility, from quality control to enrichment analysis. I then moved to EMBL-EBI where I had roles in ontology development (Gene Ontology and Experimental Factor Ontology, EFO) and in literature curation for the INFRAFRONTIER Research Infrastructure. Currently, I’m a self-employed consultant for the EMBL-EBI EFO group and for the SciBite ontology team.


Since my first experience with annotating genome sequences, I’ve loved the insight that curation of data can provide, and I’ve been well aware of how vital biocuration and data integration are to make sense of large-scale data. I am committed to continue to raise awareness of this, and to contribute to implementation of good standards. Consulting for an industry has exposed me to the needs of biomedical SMEs, and to the potential for employment of biocurators in those settings. However, those job positions are sometimes advertised in ways that don’t make them immediately visible to biocurators. Following on from the establishment of a Postgraduate Certificate in Biocuration, I think that the ISB could play a role in further helping biocurators navigate the growing opportunities in private settings, at a time when funding for public projects and databases can be tight. Another area where I’d like to contribute is towards sustainable attendance to conferences, also a growing concern in many areas. Remote participation upon payment of a fee is a potential option to reduce our carbon footprint. It would also allow more biocurators to join in when distance or family commitments are an issue.

Conflicts of interest and other commitments