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A Laureate and a Gentleman


By Kevin Davies

Feb. 29, 2008 | Robert Gentleman, a bioinformatician at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) in Seattle, is the winner of the 2008 Benjamin Franklin Award by the Bioinformatics Organization.

The announcement was made by Jeff Bizarro, executive director of bioinformatics.org. Gentleman was one of six finalists named in December by the non-profit bioinformatics.org.

Gentleman is one of the developers of R, a widely used suite of statistical tools. He is also known for leading a group effort to develop BioConductor, a highly popular open-source and open-development software project for the analysis and comprehension of genomic and computational biology data. The goals of the BioConductor project include expanding the use of innovative software; further collaboration to reduce the barriers to entry into multidisciplinary research; and encouraging the means to reproduce research data.

According to Bizarro, Gentleman is also being recognized for his advocacy and ethical views on the meaning of publishing data, with an emphasis on sharing data-transformation methods as well as the underlying data.

Gentleman joined “the Hutch” in 2004, having previously been an associate professor in biostatistics at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. He heads the Herbold Computational Biology Program at the FHCRC.

Bizarro will present Gentleman with his award on behalf of bioinformatics.org in a plenary session on April 29 at this year’s Bio-IT World Conference & Expo in Boston.

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