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Bioinformatics.Org Announces 2008 Franklin Award Finalists

Dec. 20, 2007 | The Bioinformatics Organization has announced the names of the six nominees for the 2008 Benjamin Franklin Award. The winner will be presented with the award and deliver a lecture at the Bio-IT World Conference & Expo, on Tuesday, April 29, 2008.

The 2007 winner, Sean Eddy (HHMI Janelia Farm), joined a distinguished group of bioinformatics researchers recognized by Bioinformatics.Org and its some 24,000 members, dedicated to the open access of materials and data, including Michael Ashburner (Cambridge/2006), Ewan Birney (EBI/2005), Lincoln Stein (Cold Spring Harbor/2004), James Kent (UC Santa Cruz/2003) and Michael Eisen (UC Berkeley/2002).

The six finalists for the 2008 award are:

Philip E. Bourne (co-director, Protein Data Bank, University of California San Diego) –- Bourne is the founding editor-in-chief of PLoS Computational Biology, an open access journal published by the Public Library of Science. As co-director of the Protein Data Bank, he is responsible for continued free access to structural biology data and software distributed through the San Diego Supercomputer Center. He continues to develop widely used software tools including 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) -- Edwards has been an advocate for the development and sharing of biodiversity data since the early 1980s. As program director of the National Science Foundation's (NSF) Biological Research Resources Program, he advocated data standards for museum collections and for aggressive programs of database construction. As deputy assistant director for biological sciences at NSF, he helped develop blueprints for the Global Biodiversity Information Facility (GBIF). His latest project is the construction of an open-access Encyclopedia of Life

Robert Gentleman (Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center) -- Gentleman is one of the minds behind the R Project, a powerful and increasingly popular suite of statistical tools. He co-founded and developed BioConductor, an open-source/open-development software project for the genomic data analysis. Gentleman espouses strong ethical views 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. SBML has been one of the first XML languages 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) – Ouellette has been a tireless promoter of open-source access (read his top 10 things you can do to support open access). He was an early supporter of the PLoS community 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) – Formerly with The Institute of Genomic Research, Salzberg has promoted open access and data sharing in several areas, producing several popular open-source bioinformatics tools (MUMmer, Glimmer, TransTerm, Jigsaw, etc.). Salzberg helped start the Influenza Genome Sequencing project and has lobbied for the data’s immediate release, publicly calling on other influenza researchers to follow his lead.

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