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News Briefs from the ISMB 2002 Conference Floor


The NSF is begging you to take its money. Program director Sylvia Spengler took the ISMB podium last week, rousing attendees “to get your act together” and apply for the “big money” the agency has available for bioinformatics projects. The Information Technology Research program alone has over a quarter of a billion dollars to give away, Spengler said, with only a measly $48 million of that awarded to biology-related IT projects over the last two years.

Phil Bourne, president of the ISCB, said the society has seen “possible interest” from Sun and Hewlett-Packard on corporate sponsorship of the society at the $100,000-$150,000 level. In other ISCB news, the society journal, Bioinformatics, will increase from 12 to 18 issues a year beginning in January. In addition, the organization plans to host a second, smaller, annual meeting at a location remote from the ISMB venue.

Who’s Hiring? A few organizations looking for talent at ISMB: Aventis, BioSolveIT, Boehringer Ingelheim, Chemical Computing Group, CyCorp, Eumorphia, Genentech, Google, Honda Fundamental Research Labs, Intel Labs, MathWorks, Memorial Sloan Kettering Computational Biology Center, Novartis, RIKEN, the Protein Information Resource (Georgetown University).

Genops Bioinformatics demonstrated a prototype of its scalable vector graphics-based Knowledge Visualization Module, a genomic annotation viewer that acts as an optional component for the company’s Ngene application platform. The company plans to release KVM at the end of October.

The GO Consortium is expanding. Michael Ashburner said that the Sequence Ontology, an ontology for sequence features, has just been funded, and that GO has initiated the Global Open Biological Ontologies (GOBO) project to host different types of shared controlled vocabularies (

The Generic Model Organism (GMOD, project also received NIH funding in June to support eight positions, according to project head Lincoln Stein. GMOD’s goal is to create a set of development tools that will assist in the creation and maintenance of curated model organism databases.

The LSID (Life Science Identifier) specification proposed by the I3C is gaining acceptance. Stein said he is implementing LSID in DAS, and the BioMoby project will also likely use LSID, according to lead developer Mark Wilkinson.

SRI is working on a data warehouse project to integrate and store the BioCyc, KEGG, and SwissProt databases, said Peter Karp. The project entails the development of schemas for the different types as well as loader tools to feed the data into the schemas, Karp said. The first release of the integrated warehouse is expected in September. Karp said the grant for the EcoCyc database was also renewed recently.

The Public Library of Science initiative has postponed its plans a bit, but the group still expects to launch two open access journals, PLoS Biology and PLoS Medicine, according to Michael Eisen. PLoS expects to begin accepting papers in January 2003.

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