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Michael Ashburner Named Laureate of 2006 Benjamin Franklin Award

Bioinformatics.Org has chosen Professor Michael Ashburner of Cambridge University as this year’s winner of its annual Benjamin Franklin Award in the Life Sciences.

According to his nominators, Ashburner has made fundamental contributions to many open-access bioinformatics projects including FlyBase, the GASP project, the Gene Ontology project, and the Open Biological Ontologies project, and he was instrumental in the establishment of the European Bioinformatics Institute. He is also known for advocating open access to biological information.

The Benjamin Franklin Award in the Life Sciences is a humanitarian award presented annually by Bioinformatics.Org to an individual who promotes free and open access to the materials and methods used in the life sciences.

Other nominees for the 2006 award were:

Helen Berman (Protein Data Bank): Berman manages the world’s largest protein data bank without cost to the general scientific community. Free and open data access has been one of the cornerstones of PDB policy from the beginning.

Phil Bourne (University of California at San Diego): Bourne is the co-founder of the open access journal PLoS Computational Biology, strengthening the ideals of openness in the bioinformatics community. As co-director of the PDB, he is responsible for the continued free access to structural data and software distributed through the San Diego Supercomputer Center. And he continues to develop open access tools, including CE, a structure comparison algorithm.

Sean Eddy (HHMI/University of Washington): The creation of HMMer (Hidden Markov Model) HMMsoftware and its free distribution has essentially created the use of profile HMMs in protein sequence analysis. The creation of the Pfam family of protein domains is the basis of genome annotations, family classification systems such as GO and protein annotation. Eddy’s work on small RNAs has also helped launch that field.

Don Gilbert (Indiana University): Gilbert established the Indiana University IUBio archive and developed one of the first Internet-available interfaces to GenBank. He also developed the widely used programs readseq and SeqPup.

Past laureates of the Benjamin Franklin Award include Ewan Birney (2005), Lincoln Stein (2004), James Kent (2003), and Michael Eisen (2002).

The ceremony for the presentation of this year's award will be held at the 2006 Bioinformatics.Org Annual Meeting (BiOAM), held in conjunction with the Life Sciences Conference and Expo, Boston, Massachusetts, April 3 to 5, 2006. The presentation will be made April 5 at 10:00 AM, and it is open to all attendees. It involves a short introduction, the presentation of the certificate, and the laureate seminar. Please see for more information on the event.




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