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UK CBCB: an ELIXIR for cross-disciplinary collaboration in bioinformatics

The first ever UK Conference of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (UKCBCB) takes place at the end of September - a two day virtual event which brings together the diverse bioscience disciplines which increasingly rely on powerful computational infrastructures to store, share and analyse large datasets.

August 24, 2020

The first ever UK Conference of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (UKCBCB) takes place at the end of September - a two day virtual event which brings together the diverse bioscience disciplines which increasingly rely on powerful computational infrastructures to store, share and analyse large datasets.

Professor Neil Hall, Director of the Earlham Institute, gives us a glimpse of what to expect, and the benefits of attending the inaugural UKCBCB. Remember - you still have time to sign up!

What can people expect?

Although originally planned as a conference to take place at the Earlham Institute, since the COVID-19 crisis we have had to change things somewhat and the meeting will have more of a symposium feel to it.

However the subject matter will be wide ranging, with really diverse speakers with a range of backgrounds. Not only does it cover the full range of biological disciplines but it will cover everything from algorithm development and machine learning to research data infrastructures and data management. Essentially all aspects of computational biology.

You can view the full event programme here.

Prof. Neil Hall, Director of the Earlham Institute will chair the first UK Conference of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology this September.

Why is this conference important?

I hope that it will bring together people who don’t normally interact but who can learn from each other. I think people working in genomics can learn from people doing image analysis and vice versa.

We have huge challenges ahead in how we store and share large and complex datasets and at the moment we don’t do enough to share ideas and best practice between fields. It will be a challenge to get these conversations going online, as networking can be more difficult at virtual events, so I hope people will attend the talks in areas outside their own fields.

The is the first ever UK CBCB - how did it come about?

Previously there was no regular bioinformatics meeting for the UK community that cut across a range of diverse but interrelated disciplines such as genomics, protein function, structural biology, image analysis etc.

We agreed with collaborators across ELIXIR that the Earlham Institute would be an ideal institute to lead in establishing this - especially as EI hosts the ELIXIR-UK node coordination office and the National Capability in Advanced Training, with a great team ready to organise it.

We also wanted a conference that could bring the work of ELIXIR-UK to the attention of more people. My hope is that this will become a meeting that is led by the community in the future.

What are you most excited to hear about?

Everything! There are loads of great sessions and speakers planned.

Meet a few of our session chairs and speakers!


We spoke with a few of our sesson Chairs and Speakers to find out what they were looking forward to from the UK CBCB event! Take a look at the full line of speakers and chairs.

Prof. Christine Orengo, session chair for Structural Bioinformatics session

“The last major UK Bioinformatics conference, covering broad themes across the field, was the BBSRC funded CCP11 conference nearly 20 years ago! Structural Bioinformatics is one of the most established bioinformatics themes and UK groups have played major roles internationally in protein structure classification, prediction, structure-function analyses, variant impacts, engineering, dynamics and therapeutics. Furthermore, new developments in machine learning are promising to revolutionise the field. This conference will be a great opportunity for the UK Structural Bioinformatics community to get together again and meet with other communities by zoom!”

Prof. Ross King, speaker for Bridging Genotype to Phenotype session

“The inaugural UKCBCB will be a great opportunity to link up with colleagues, from biologists and bioinformaticians to computer and data scientists, and share best practice. I am looking forward to talking as part of the Bridging Genotype to Phenotype session. I will share my latest work on the Robot Scientist project, which aims to transform the way science is done, applying techniques from artificial intelligence to execute cycles of automated scientific experimentation."

Prof. Susanna-Assunta Sansone, speaker for Data Management session

"Join our Data Management session to learn about the FAIR Principles from some of the authors. FAIR is about making data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable autonomously, with minimal human intervention, to become more reproducible and transparent. FAIR has de facto become a global norm and it is guiding data policies, actions and professional practices in the public and private sectors"

Prof. Carole Goble, chair of Data Management session

“I am looking forward to the UKCBCB, which will be a unique opportunity to bring together those working in a range of disciplines from biology to computer science. My session will showcase the great work happening in Data Management, covering the approaches for validation, storage and protection of data under the FAIR principles – ensuring research objects are Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable.”

Article author

Peter Bickerton

Scientific Communications & Outreach Manager