I’m delighted to announce that the Broad Institute’s Data Sciences Platform is sponsoring this year’s Bioinformatics Open Source Conference (BOSC 2021), taking place virtually July 29-30 (abstracts due May 6!), because we believe that fostering a vibrant, inclusive open-source bioinformatics community is an essential piece of our mission.
If you’re not familiar with BOSC, it’s a really neat community-driven conference that brings together a wide range of people in the bioinformatics space, including tool and pipeline developers, bioinformatics core staff, educators, and of course researchers in the biological sciences —many of whom routinely wear several if not all of those hats! All these folks have in common a core belief in the value of sharing methods and tools openly and reproducibly, and they care deeply about making the bioinformatics field inclusive and accessible to all.
Group photo from BOSC 2019 in Portland, OR
The conference is organized by the Open Bioinformatics Foundation, a non-profit, volunteer-run group dedicated to promoting the practice and philosophy of Open Source software development and Open Science within the biological research community. Accordingly, BOSC sessions cover all the main topics you might expect like open science, open data, computational reproducibility, standards and interoperability, as applied to various disciplines of biology, from ecology to biomedicine. Some sessions are more focused on technical aspects — workflow management systems are a staple, of course — while others are dedicated to topics like education, outreach and policy that round out the conference programme.
BOSC in practice
Since its launch in 2000, BOSC has been part of the ISMB/ECCB conference of the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB). In 2018 and 2020, BOSC partnered with the Galaxy Community Conference. This year BOSC has once again paired up with its original mothership and is offered as a “Community of Special Interest” track, or COSI, within ISMB/ECCB 2021.
The mothership conference schedule is a bit of a beast: two days of optional tutorials, then six days of parallel tracks (one of which is BOSC) covering a vast number of topics under the umbrella of computational biology. BOSC itself takes place during the last two days of ISMB/ECCB 2021, with about 4 hours of scheduled talks each day plus time reserved for poster sessions and interest-based gatherings known as “Birds of a Feather” (BoF). On a personal note, I really enjoy BoFs because they’re typically very informal, loosely planned (some are crowdsourced “at runtime”), and a great way to meet people in the community, exchange ideas and nucleate collaborations.
In that same spirit, BOSC is followed by a two-day “Collaboration Fest“, or CoFest, which consists of working together on projects that will benefit the community. The projects can range from discussing specifications and updating documentation, all the way to actively hacking code, so there’s plenty of ways for everyone to participate, whether you’re new to the field or a grizzled veteran.
Register and submit your abstract today
Overall, BOSC is a really great way to get involved in the bioinformatics community; whether you’re just getting started, looking to learn new skills, update your libraries, get help on a project, share your own work, or a combination of the above. We’re proud to support this event and we hope to see many of you there virtually.
To register, visit the ISMB/ECCB conference registration page; you will have the opportunity to select BOSC as one of the COSI tracks that you plan to attend. Registration rates are based on your country of origin and your career level, and the Open Bioinformatics Foundation provides financial assistance for BOSC presenters (of both talks and posters) who need it in order to offset the cost of ISMB/ECCB registration. The abstract submission form includes an option to request this assistance; rest assured that information will not be shared with reviewers.
Abstracts are due this Thursday May 6 (by 11:59pm EDT), so don’t wait if you want a shot at giving a talk! Or if that’s just too little time, you can plan to submit a poster abstract in the “late posters” category, which are due June 3. And with that, I’m off to finish mine…