ISB White Paper

Please join us in drafting a white paper on behalf of the International Society for Biocuration.

This document was first presented as a draft to the community during the  Workshop on Curation Innovation at the 9th International Biocuration Conference in Geneva, Switzerland.

Your suggestions and contributions can be added on the shared document available online as a Google Document at

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Announcing 2016 ISB Travel Fellowships Awardees

Congratulations are in order!

Please join us as we extend our best wishes to the winners of the 2016 ISB Travel Fellowships to attend the
9th International Biocuration Conference to be held in
Geneva, Switzerland on April 10-14.

This year’s ISB Travel Fellowships were awarded to:

Alba Gutierrez
Alex Vesztrocy
Francesco Russo
Hayda Almeida
Hayley Dingerdissen
Jean-Philippe Gourdine
Jinmeng Jia
Qingyu Chen
Timothy Putman

Congratulations again, and see you in Geneva!

Our sincere thanks to the 2016 ISB Travel Fellowships Committee:
Cecilia Airghi, Pascale Gaudet, and Sandra Orchard.

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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] 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

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ISB’s Response to NEJM’s editorial on the subject of Data Sharing

One of the primary goals of biocuration is to provide an accurate and comprehensive representation of biological knowledge and easy access to these data for working scientists, whether they be computational scientists, basic researchers, or clinicians. This and other goals of our field are achieved thanks to the convergent endeavors of biocurators, software developers, bioinformaticians, and many other researchers. Biocurators provide essential resources to the biological community such that a number of databases have become an integral part of the tools researchers use on a daily basis for their work. Much of our work is accomplished through the use and citation of publicly available datasets as well as data generated in our institutions. In addition, the results of our analyses and the datasets we generate are very commonly used by other researchers.

As members of the Executive Committee for the International Society for Biocuration (ISB) we express our deep concern about the grave statements made in the recently published editorial from the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) [1] regarding the principles behind data sharing in the context of scientific research. The notion that rapid and unrestricted sharing of data and research resources can undermine the advancement of research itself is in direct contrast to the many initiatives being promoted by research institutions around the world. Two examples of this are the Big Data to Knowledge initiative (BD2K) [2], which highlights that sharing software and data are key elements to help solving outstanding healthcare problems [3], and an initiative from the Office of Science and Technology Policy of the United States Government to expand public access to the results of federally funded research [4]. Requirements from both granting agencies and journals state a need for sharing, accompanied by policies that address and protect privacy concerns where necessary.

Like many of our colleagues, we also think that NEJM’s additional commentary on the editorial [5] falls short in the attempt to address the statements at the center of the controversy that the initial piece incited from the wider scientific community.

The consequences of conducting research in an environment that restricts rather than encourages prompt access to data can only result in slowing the progress of discovery. The practices of openness and collaboration lie at the core of the mission of ISB, and we will continue to do everything in our power to promote these principles within our membership and with our collaborators.


The International Society for Biocuration Executive Committee,

J. Michael Cherry – President,
Monica Munoz-Torres – Secretary,
Sandra Orchard – Treasurer,
Cecilia Arighi,
Melissa Haendel,
Suzanna Lewis,
Claire O’Donovan,
Sylvain Poux,
Zhang Zhang.

1. Longo, D.L. and J.M. Drazen, Data Sharing. N Engl J Med, 2016. 374(3): p. 276-7
2. Big Data to Knowledge initiative (BD2K).
3. Bourne, P. Data Science @ NIH – The Year in Review. INPUT|OUTPUT. 2016.
4. Expanding Public Access to the Results of Federally Funded Research. 2013.
5. Drazen, J.M. N Engl J Med, 2016. DOI: 10.1056/NEJMe1601087

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Travel fellowships for the Biocuration 2016 Conference

The International Society for Biocuration and The Ninth International Biocuration Conference are pleased to provide current ISB members with travel fellowships for students, junior curators, curators from low-income countries, and from countries suffering from natural disasters.

We intend to support a total of twelve (12) applicants.

Please note that applying for a fellowship does not guarantee that you will receive funding.


– A total of twelve travel awards will be issued. Eight (8) awards of up to CHF1,000 and four (4) with up to CHF500 as micro-grants.
– The Amount per travel fellowship will depend on registration and travel costs. Funds will be transferred on a reimbursement basis and receipts will be required.

Requirements and procedures:
Each applicant for a travel fellowship must satisfy the following conditions:

– The applicant must be a current ISB member. To sign up, go to
– The applicant must have been selected for a poster or oral presentation at the 9th International Biocuration Conference.
– Only the presenting author from a multi-author abstract may apply for a fellowship.
– The applicant must submit an accompanying letter explaining why s/he is requesting travel funds: please remember we are encouraging junior curators, curators originating from low-income countries, and curators from countries suffering from natural disasters.
– Application materials should be sent to with the subject ‘Travel Fellowships to Biocuration 2016‘.

Note: The applicant should review visa requirements and make any necessary arrangements of her/his own.

Application deadline: 4 March, 2016
Notification of acceptance: 11 March, 2016
Conference Dates: 10-14 April, 2016

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CTD turned 10!

The Comparative Toxicogenomics Database (CTD) recently celebrated its 10-year anniversary on the web. Since its beginnings, CTD has been devoted to centralizing and harmonizing information about genes responding to environmental toxic agents across diverse species. The database has now evolved into a premier toxicology resource, allowing scientists to discover information and develop testable hypotheses about the biological consequences of chemical exposure (both environmental and drug). Today, CTD includes over 24 million toxicogenomic connections relating chemicals/drugs, genes/proteins, diseases, taxa, phenotypes, Gene Ontology annotations, and pathways.

This celebratory milestone was recently published in the journal Nucleic Acids Research, which summarized the history and evolution of CTD, including descriptions of curation processes, new content, and enhanced visualization and analysis tools. The article also detailed a new “Pathway View” tool that leverages gene interaction data from BioGRID to allow users to build unique toxicogenomic interaction modules connecting chemical exposure to disease events.

As it was ten years ago, CTD today is still managed by a small team of biologists and software engineers who work with both the toxicology and biocuration communities to advance understanding of chemical-gene-disease data and how best to extract and code this information from the published literature. All CTD data are freely available to the public. As well, CTD content has been disseminated further into the scientific community via more than 55 other databases that routinely incorporate CTD’s annotations. If interested in establishing links to CTD data, please notify us and follow these instructions.


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