Influential bioinformaticians

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bgood's picture
Influential bioinformaticians

forum_id=6008Benjamin Franklin award nominees

Who will win this year?


- Philip E. Bourne, Protein Data Bank Co-Director, University of California San Diego. As the co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of the Open Access journal PLoS Computational Biology (, Philip E. Bourne has worked long and hard to establish PLoS Computational Biology, a premier journal in Computational Biology that is free to all. As co-Director of the RCSB Protein Data Bank, he is responsible for the continued free access to molecular structural data and software distributed through the San Diego Supercomputer Center. He continues to develop openly accessible tools including the distribution of the source code that are in wide use by the bioinformatics community. Most recently he has developed SciVee, a free scientific video delivery site ( in which video can be integrated with the open access literature to create a new learning experience.

- James L. Edwards, Encyclopedia of Life, Smithsonian Institution. Jim Edwards has been a leading advocate for the development and sharing of biodiversity data since the early 1980s. As Program Director of the National Science Foundation's Biological Research Resources Program, he was a leading voice for data standards for museum and herbarium collections and for aggressive programs of database construction. Jim went on to become the Deputy Assistant Director for Biological Sciences at NSF. From that position of influence Jim promoted early release of biological data into the public domain. During that period Jim also worked through the OECD's Megascience Forum (now the Global Science Forum) to develop the blueprints for the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF, In 2007, Jim has moved on to an even greater challenge: construction of a comprehensive open access Encyclopedia of Life (

- Robert Gentleman, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Robert Gentleman is one of the minds behind R (, a powerful suite of statistical tools with an ever increasing following. And, together with other core members, he founded and developed BioConductor (, an open-source and open-development software project for the analysis and comprehension of genomic data. BioConductor is one of the most popular open-source suites of tools for genomic data analysis. More importantly, Robert has a strong ethical view on the meaning of publishing data, with an emphasis on sharing data-transformation methods as well as the underlying data.

- Michael Hucka, California Institute of Technology. Michael Hucka is the head of the Systems Biology Markup Language team ( and the coordinator of the development of SBML -- one of the first XML languages to be widely used in the life sciences. More importantly for the award, he has been the one to always push for more openness, whether in language development, distribution, or software support. Dr. Hucka was also instrumental in the development of the open-source Systems Biology Workbench (

- Francis Ouellette, Ontario Institute for Cancer Research. Francis has been a tireless promoter of open source access (his top 10 things you can do to support open access: [link]). He was an early supporter of the PLoS community ([link]) and has been a proponent of open access for work derived from public funding, e.g. Genome Canada (

- Steven Salzberg, University of Maryland, College Park. Steven Salzberg has promoted open access and data sharing in several areas of bioinformatics. He and his group have produced several highly used bioinformatics tools (e.g. mummer, glimmer, TransTerm, Jigsaw, etc.). Prof. Salzberg has released these tools as open source and has often argued for the free sharing of software. In addition, Prof. Salzberg has forcefully argued for the immediate release of influenza genomic data as it becomes available. He helped to start the Influenza Genome Sequencing project, which is sequencing thousands of influenza genomes and immediately publicly releasing the data. In a recent letter to Nature, he has publicly called on other influenza researchers to do the same. Given the historic reluctance of influenza researchers to share data, this public position takes a fair amount of courage.

The ceremony for the presentation of the Award will be held at the 2008 Bio-IT World Conference + Expo in Boston ( It involves a short introduction, the presentation of the certificate, and the laureate seminar. Ceremony attendance is free with early registration.

Past laureates include Sean Eddy (2007), Michael Ashburner (2006), Ewan Birney (2005), Lincoln Stein (2004), James Kent (2003) and Michael Eisen (2002).

Franklin Award webpage:

sichan's picture
My vote would be for Philip

My vote would be for Philip Bourne. I'm a big fan of his '10 Simple Rules' articles in PLoS Computational Biology, such as '10 Simple Rules for Getting Published'