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Benton Signs off as OMG LSR Co-Chair at London Meeting; SNP Standard on its Way


At its most recent meeting in London, Nov. 18-20, the Object Management Group’s Life Science Research Domain Task Force bid farewell to co-chair David Benton, who helped found the group and has served as co-chair — and as a key advocate for life science informatics standards — since it was launched in 1997.

Benton, whose day job is director of knowledge integration and discovery systems for R&D IT at GlaxoSmithKline, resigned as co-chair solely due to travel restrictions imposed by GSK’s management for 2004, he said. “GSK will still be a member, and I think that standards are even more important now than when the LSR started six years ago,” he told BioInform.

The LSR will elect a new co-chair at its next meeting, in Anaheim, Calif., Feb. 4-5, 2003.

Benton’s LSR legacy includes seven active requests for proposals that are working their way through the group’s standardization pipeline. “They’re all important,” he said, “and I think that most of them will have at least one good submission that can be the basis for developing a standard.”

Of course, he noted, “It’s relatively easy to issue an RFP. It’s harder to get quality submissions and get them approved.”

The LSR made incremental progress on a few of these pending standards at the London meeting, but was forced to extend the submission deadlines on several RFPs because “people need more time to complete the work,” Benton said.

During the meeting, IBM, the European Bioinformatics Institute, and the I3C presented a revised submission against the LSID (Life Science Identifier) RFP and France’s Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique presented an updated version of the Biochemical Pathways RFP that it first disclosed at the OMG’s Boston meeting in September [BioInform 09-22-03]. In addition, the EBI presented an initial submission for the Life Science Analysis Engine RFP, which is a proposal to define a set of interfaces, data structures, and services that will enable standardized access to analytical tools.

The LSR also developed an evaluation plan for an initial submission it expects to see at the Anaheim meeting, for a Single Nucleotide Polymorphism standard. Benton, who plans to head the evaluation of that RFP via teleconference and e-mail for the time being, said he anticipates a fairly well-developed submission: Just before the London OMG meeting, the Japan Biological Informatics Consortium (JBIC) hosted a three-day international conference in Tokyo where representatives from most of the major international SNP repositories hashed out some ground rules for an XML definition for data exchange. “They actually made quite a bit of progress in two and a half days in coming to an agreement,” Benton said, “and I think that will be one joint submission in response to the SNP RFP.”

Full minutes from the London meeting, as well as details of the open RFPs and future meetings, are available at

— BT

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