q career award – ISB (Biocuration)

Announcement for winners of “Excellence in Biocuration Awards”

We are pleased to announce winners of “Excellence in Biocuration Award” for the year 2022 in two categories:

Early Career Award – Shirin Saverimuttu, SciBite Limited, Wellcome Genome Campus Hinxton, Cambridge, UK

Shirin started her biocuration career in 2019 at University College London (UCL) as a Gene Ontology biocurator. As a biocurator at UCL, she focussed on the curation of microRNAs and helped to develop a resource for more consistent annotation of microRNAs. During this time, she helped master students with their annotation projects. After being awarded a COST grant she spent a week in Italy with Dr Panni, Università della Calabria, where she exchanged information about microRNA annotation. In late 2020, Shirin joined the Polygenic Score (PGS) Catalog at EMBL-EBI as an intern biocurator and got trained to identify suitable PGS publications and extract polygenic scores from them, along with relevant metadata, for inclusion in the PGS Catalog. Later, she continued to work as a full time biocurator for both the PGS Catalog and GWAS Catalog at EMBL-EBI. Since 2021, Shirin has been working at SciBite as a scientific curator. At SciBite, she is involved in developing ontologies for customers as well as updating SciBite’s pre-existing vocabularies. Shirin enjoys working as a biocurator and would like to thank the ISB community for this recognition.

Advanced Career Award – Antonia Lock, European Bioinformatics Institute, Hinxton, Cambridge, UK

Following a PhD in molecular biology, Antonia started her career as a curator at the PomBase database in 2011. From 2016, she split her time to work with the drug discovery company Healx. From 2020, she started working full time biocurator at UniProt. Antonia has enjoyed being part of a varied range of projects over her career from curating model and pathogenic organisms to human, drugs, and diseases, developing new procedures, encouraging community data submissions, and problem-solving data display and software specification. Antonia is proud to have developed standards to describe metadata for genome-wide HTP data sets, mapped controlled vocabularies to ontologies, and done ground-work curation for a genetic disorder with drugs currently in clinical trial. In all her roles she has promoted the efficient use of curated data by training users, students, and novice curators.

Thank you to the Award subcommittee:

Parul Gupta (Chair)

Ruth Lovering

Randi Vita

Caio Cesar De Carvalho

Rama Balakrishnan

Many Thanks to ISB members for voting!

Eleanor Williams on winning the Biocuration Award 2018

mouse dissociated embryonic kidney cells reforming into a kidney organoid
Mouse dissociated embryonic kidney cells reforming into a kidney organoid – from the Image Data Resource

In mid-January, I got an email saying I had won the 2018 Biocuration Career Award from the International Society for Biocuration!  I was excited to win the award, thrilled to be going to the Biocuration conference in China and wondered what I would say in a presentation about “my career” at the conference.

That week I had just started in a new biocuration position and after hearing about the award, my new colleagues suggested I give a lunchtime talk on my scientific background so that the others in the team could get to know me better.  As I worked on a timeline and slides about each of my past biocuration positions, I realized that there actually was a lot that I wanted to say.

I have worked on several different projects over the last 17 years that I would describe as “biocuration.”  These jobs have varied greatly.  I started curating data in a research position at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, collating information about mouse and human olfactory receptors. Then back in the UK I worked in a more “service” role in the established resources of ArrayExpress and Expression Atlas at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), curating data submissions, talking with submitters and I started to delve into the world of ontologies.  More recently I have been the primary curator setting up the metadata processing pipeline for the Image Data Resource at the University of Dundee.  This resource was built from scratch, and went where few others have dared to go, creating a robust data repository for complex bioimaging data, with the added value of metadata integration. It has been immensely satisfying to see this project grow both in size and reputation.

Now, after spending a lifetime in academia, I am off on a new adventure working as a Scientific Curator for a company, Genomics England, set up to  to provide a genomic medicine service for the UK National Health Service using data from the 100,000 Genomes Project.

My biocuration career has been partly driven by the external forces i.e. what fits with family life and funding opportunities, and partly by my own interests and desire to develop skills.  In hindsight each job seems a logical progression from the last, with new experiences, new skills, new technologies (github and conference calling were not around in the early 2000s) and new challenges that have made for a fun and interesting career.

I am very proud to receive the International Society of Biocuration Career Award.  It has helped me reflect on my work and recognize that I have had a career and not just a series of jobs!  I hope that by sharing my story and the skills I have found to be most useful, I can help others think about their own journeys.  It is also wonderful to appreciate the international community of biocurators who meet together to share experiences and recognize the importance of data and biocuration in the sciences. I am looking forward to meeting many of you in Shanghai!

Dr Eleanor Williams will be presenting her work at the International Biocuration Conference in Shanghai in April 2018, her talk will be on:

Title: Curating bioimaging data – lessons from the first 40 terabytes

Synopsis: I have experienced three very different types of biocuration work in my career. My first taste of biocuration was in a research lab curating information about olfactory receptor genes. I then moved to work on the well-established functional genomics databases of ArrayExpress and the Expression Atlas at EMBL-EBI curating data submissions submissions. From there I moved to a project at the University of Dundee setting up the Image Data Resource for bioimaging data. This was my biggest curation  challenge, starting almost from scratch to develop a method to capture the biomolecular, experimental and analytic annotations associated with images, and to create a pipeline to populate the database. I will describe the most useful biocuration skills I have learnt and some of the challenges I’ve encountered. I will finish by describing my new position, working as a scientific curator in a company performing analyses of the genomes of patients with rare diseases.


2016 Biocuration Career Award

The International Society for Biocuration
is proud to announce the first
Biocuration Career Award.


The Biocuration Career Award recognizes biocurators in non-leadership positions who have made sustained contributions to the field of biocuration.

The nominations will be reviewed by the newly formed ISB Award 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 year.
  • Those who hold Principal Investigator or Group Leader positions, or who are current members of the ISB Executive Committee or the ISB Award Committee, are not be eligible for this award.
  • Self-nominations will not be considered.

How to submit your nomination:

  • Nominations should be sent via email to the award committee at intsocbio [at] gmail.com with the subject line “Biocuration Career Award Nominations“.
  • The nomination email should contain the following fields:
    • Nominator details (name, e-mail and affiliation, member of ISB);
    • Nominee details (name, e-mail and affiliation);
    • Short list of scholarly contributions (a maximum of 50 words);
    • Brief description of why you are recommending this person (a maximum of 350 words).

The recipient of the award will be invited to give a presentation at the following International Biocuration Conference, with all expenses paid by the ISB.

Important Dates for 2016

Deadline to submit nominations: Sunday 20-March-2016
Award Announcement: April, 2016 at the 9th International Biocuration Conference



The 2016 ISB Award Committee.


The 2016 “Biocuration Career” Award Committee are:
Melissa Haendel (Chair)
Emma Ganley
Takashi Gojobori
David Landsman
Michele Magrane
Kimberly Van Auken
Alfonso Valencia