A look back on the 13th edition of [BC]2

Last week, the 13th edition of the Basel Computational Biology Conference, co-organized by SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics and the Biozentrum University of Basel, gathered over 500 participants from all over the globe. Among them, world-leading researchers as well as promising junior scientists – who returned home with prestigious awards.

Computational Biology at its best in Basel

Basel, with its museums, art galleries, zoo, and pharmaceutical industry... and its key computational biology event!
The 13th edition of [BC]2 took place from 12 to 15 September. It gathered 514 scientists active in fields as diverse as bioinformatics, neurosciences, medicine or systems biology. With 24 countries represented overall, this edition was more international than ever.
Some of the conference’s highlights included six inspiring keynotes lectures given by outstanding scientists. Prof. Núria López-Bigas (Institute for Research in Biomedicine, Spain) took her audience on a journey to identify cancer driver mutations; Prof. Mihaela Zavolan (Biozentrum University of Basel & SIB) explored the role played by the shortening of the 3’ untranslated region (3’ UTR) of messenger RNA in cancer; Prof. Leonid Mirny (MIT, USA) showed how computational biology can guide and interpret experiments to understand the packing of ca. 2m of DNA per cell; Prof. Alexander Borst (Max Planck Institute of Neurobiology, Germany) presented how computational modelling guides new experiments and provides insight into understanding the fly brain; Prof. Lior Pachter (CalTech, USA) showed how the interplay of mathematics and molecular biology grounds the proper interpretation of gene expression; and finally Dr Robert Gentleman (USA), co-creator of the R programming language and Vice-President Computational Biology at 23andMe, shed light on how this company is leveraging its 1M+ customers’ genomic data to link phenotypes – and diseases – to genotypes.
With themes as diverse as novel sequencing technologies, the latest bioinformatics resources improvements, innovative modelling approaches and international ‘omics’ data federating initiatives, the conference provided both an overview of today’s cutting-edge data science and directions as to how it can be harnessed to improve our global knowledge and human health.
[BC]2 also provided the attendees with plenty of occasions for socializing and discussing collaborations.

A push for open science

Open science is at the heart of the bioinformatics community’s preoccupations, and was actively promoted before and during the conference. Speakers and poster presenters were encouraged to widen the reach of their research by making it available to a large audience, either by using open research publishing platforms such as bioRxiv, F1000research or FigShare to promote their poster or paper, or by encouraging a tight Twitter coverage of their talks (hashtag #BC2basel).

Congratulations to the laureates of the SIB Awards 2017

The three laureates of the SIB bioinformatics Awards 2017 were announced on the last day of the conference.
Congratulations to:

  • Dr Sebastian Waszak, EMBL (Germany), for his outstanding work in computational and statistical biology. Sebastian won the SIB International Young Bioinformatician Award 2017. Following a PhD at EPFL in Prof. Bart Deplancke’s Lab, he is now a postdoc at EMBL in the group of Dr Jan Korbel.
    • See S. Waszak’s publication page
  • Dr José Aguilar-Rodriguez, University of Zurich, for his paper “A thousand empirical adaptive landscapes and their navigability”, published in January 2017 in Nature Ecology & Evolution. José won the SIB Best Swiss Bioinformatics Graduate Paper Award 2017. This paper, which explores the topography of adaptive landscapes in transcription regulation using high-throughput empirical data, was published as a part of his PhD thesis at the Andreas Wagner Laboratory.
  • The drug discovery resource RepurposeDB - Reference Database of Drug Repositioning Investigations, which was represented by Dr Khader Shameer, and granted the SIB Bioinformatics Resource Innovation Award 2017. This resource includes computational drug discovery tools such as drug similarity searches, and was developed at the Dudley Lab, led by Dr Joel Dudley, at the Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology, Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai (USA).

More information about the SIB Awards

Congratulations to the laureates of the [BC]2 Best Posters Award 2017

Out of the 139 posters presented (see full list), the first prizes went to:

  • Anna Marcionetti (University of Lausanne & SIB) with “Investigating the genetic basis of clownfish adaptive radiation using comparative genomics” – Best Poster Award
  • Lukas Folkman (ETH Zürich & SIB) with “Kernelized Rank Learning for Personalized Drug Recommendation” – Best Shared Poster Award

The laureates were selected for both the visual aspect of the poster and the quality of their presentation (see all laureates). Congratulations to all!

More on the [BC]2 conference