ISMB/ECCB 2017 conference – highlights

I would like to comment on two great lectures held on ISBM/ECCB 2017 conference.

Overall, the conference was great, however, there was so many tracks, it was impossible to be on every interesting talks as they often overlapped. I am aware that topic covered is really broad and even with tracks being hold simultaneously, it was pretty long conference but for me it was a bit worrying that I have to choose between many interesting talks.

What caught my eye was still increasing interest in Machine Learning use and single cell sequencing. Attending this conference one can assume that these were ‘hot topics’ of bioinformatics for 2017.

I would like to highlight two talks that were not really about bioinformatics, rather on social bioinformatic-somehow-related problems.

(1)Open Humans: Opening human health data – Talk by Madeleine Ball

Really inspiring talk about open data movement, what are pros, cons and ambivalent features of gathering open data (understood mainly but not only as genome data). Open humans project, which Madeleine Ball is co-founder and advocate,  is a platform to share your data with selected scientific projects (you decide on every step whether you want to share or not). It may help to push research to faster and more reliable answers. However, shared data is sensitive as may  serve to identify a person so we need to remember about the right not to share. World is never black and white.

(2) Bioinformatics: A Servant or the Queen of Molecular Biology? – Talk by Pavel Pevzner

This talk was really about education and what are the next steps for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) and not bioinformatics itself. The discussion afterwards was also interesting as showed different point of views what people believe is the best way to share knowledge and learn yourself. Is it really needed to have academic lectures? Is it necessary to have personal contact with your professor and your colleagues? Or you can do similarly well (or better) with online peer-to-peer help? The discussion showed that the optimum solution can be actually pretty personal (can we do something about it? This is really important question to pedagogues and educators.). I think it was amazing ending for this conference as we cannot do science without knowledge sharing and teaching. We cannot be unavailable for those who want to learn and work in our field. We have to show why this is so amazing and worth every effort to push science even a little bit further.

I was a student of Pavel Pevzner during online courses on Coursera and the form of knowledge sharing they developed is really amazing and I think acceptable to learn bioinformatics for both programmers as well as biologists (but what can I know).

Both lectures should be soon available  at conference’s website and I really recommend to listen it yourself.