FORCE2016 Micro-grant Report

ISB Micro-grant awarded to: Dr. Melissa Haendel  & Dr. Nicole Vasilevsky.
Affiliation: Oregon Health & Science University Library

The 2016 Future of Research Communication and e-Scholarship conference (FORCE2016, was held from April 17-19 in Portland, Oregon. The conference aimed to host a trans-disciplinary summit and lively discussion around opportunities, challenges, and progress in advancing research scholarship through new technologies and practices. Force11 aims to bring about a positive change in scholarly communications through both the effective use of information technology and a deeper understanding of the nature of evolving scholarly practice.

The FORCE2106 conference included a variety of session formats including workshops, keynote talks, presentations and panel discussions, a hack-a-thon, demos, and poster sessions. The audience included a diverse group of participants including researchers across various disciplines, biocurators from Model Organism Databases and other databases, librarians, publishers, technologists, information scientists, funders, and administrators from academic and private institutions around the world. The keynote talks include speakers from Harvard, Indiana University at Bloomington, the Alan Alda Institute, and the US National Institutes of Health.

Highlights from FORCE2016:

The funds from this micro grant were used to sponsor the FORCE2016 conference by way of a best poster/demo award. The awards went to:

  • Centralizing content and distributing labor: a community model for curating the very long tail of microbial genomes. Authors: Timothy Putman, Sebastian Burgstaller-Muehlbacher, Andra Waagmeester, Chunlei Wu, Andrew I. Su, Benjamin M. Good.
  • Too big to share? Scaling up knowledge transfer workflows from little science to big science. Authors: Bernadette M. Randles, Ashley E. Sands, Christine L. Borgman.
  • Think global, act local: innovating nationally with the Italian ORCID hub. Authors: Michele Mennielli, Andrea Bollini, Josh Brown.

Slides from the conference are available in the FORCE2016 FigShare collection at

The video archives will be soon available on the FORCE2016 website.

Learn more about ISB Micro-Grants and how to apply at

New ISB Mailing List

ISB is now ready to distribute your messages to the biocuration community through the new mailing list.

To subscribe to the list and receive instructions for use, please send a blank message to this address. ISB moderators will process your request as promptly as possible.

When messaging biocurators via the ISB Mailing List, please consider:

ISB Mailing List User Agreement: The ISB is a non profit organisation for biocurators, developers, and researchers with an interest in biocuration. The society promotes the field of biocuration and provides a forum for information exchange on the topics of interest to its members. The ISB will do its best to only distribute information deemed pertinent to the field of biocuration, and it reserves the right to prevent posting to this mailing list in the event of use of inflammatory and/or abusive language, unwelcome advertisement, and in other events when appropriate. The ISB Mailing List is moderated by members of the ISB Executive Committee.

Please contact ISB Executive Committee with comments and questions.

Recipient of the Inaugural Biocuration Career Award 2016

It is our great pleasure to announce the recipient of the Inaugural Biocuration Career Award – 2016


Dr. John Westbrook
Dr. John Westbrook

In April of 2016 the International Society for Biocuration awarded its inaugural Career Award to Dr. John Westbrook.

John works at the Research Collaboratory for Structural
Bioinformatics Protein Databank (RCSB PDB)
, where his work over the past 20+ years has helped launch the field of biocuration.

He designed the PDBx/mmCIF data representation for biological macromolecular data used by PDB for data submission (now having 117K structures), which is utilized by a variety of software applications to validate a PDB submissions and analyze PDB data. John keeps the model and related tools up to date with new definitions and modeling based in new technologies, which provisions for community buy-in and participation. Searching for “protein data bank” OR “protein databank” in Pubmed gives 2988 publications. PDB is used by Pharma and biotech companies.

John’s data modeling of protein structures and his development of a variety of software tools has been pivotal to make these data maximally useful to a very large and diverse community. Representation of molecular complexity of macromolecular structure, experimental methodologies, and biological context has enabled John to facilitate integration with a spectrum of biomedical resources.

Our most sincere congratulations to John!

Best regards,

Your colleagues at the ISB Executive Committee, and the 2016
Biocuration Awards Committee

The 2016 Biocuration Awards Committee are:
Melissa Haendel – Chair
Emma Ganley 
Takashi Gojobori
David Landsman
Michele Magrane
Kimberly Van Auken
Alfonso Valencia

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

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.

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

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

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