BOSC 2023 Report
The 24th annual Bioinformatics Open Source Conference, BOSC 2023, took place as part of ISMB/ECCB 2023 in Lyon, France, and online. ISMB/ECCB attracted a near-record number of attendees, with over 2100 in person and about 900 more online.
The opening session of BOSC kicked off with a welcome from chair Nomi Harris. An overview of BOSC’s parent organization, the Open Bioinformatics Foundation, was presented by OBF Board member Bastian Greshake Tzovaras.
Hervé Ménager presented the projects undertaken at the pre-BOSC CollaborationFest, a collaborative work event (including but not limited to hacking) hosted by Jérémy Just and the nearby École Normale Supérieure de Lyon, with 29 in-person participants, plus more online. In-person participants enjoyed the lavish lunches organized by and underwritten by CoFest sponsors Complex Systems Institute, ÉNS de Lyon, and Laboratoire Reproduction et Développement des Plantes (with additional support from French Institute of Bioinformatics and PSMN to provide free virtual machines to attendees).
The first BOSC keynote was delivered by Sara El-Gebali, who spoke inspiringly about “A New Odyssey: Pioneering the Future of Scientific Progress Through Open Collaboration,” with case studies showing how open collaboration can strengthen inclusive scientific communities and vice-versa. For example, 95.5% of genomic research participants in GWAS are people of European heritage; this has led to the development of drugs that don’t work for most of the people in the world. Sara made many points that resonated with the BOSC audience, such as the need to revamp research reward systems to take into account open science practices, not just one-dimensional publication metrics.
The second day of BOSC started with a thought-provoking keynote by Joseph Yracheta (presented virtually due to a last-minute family emergency) entitled “The Dissonance between Scientific Altruism & Capitalist Extraction: The Zero Trust and Federated Data Sovereignty Solution”, which examined thorny questions about the current open data environment and how it impacts American Indian / Native American communities. Joe, the founder of the Native BioData Consortium, discussed our ethical responsibilities as people who work on open source tools and open bioinformatics research to ensure that indigenous data is ethically sourced and used.
Beyond keynotes, BOSC had seven themed sessions with talks chosen from submitted abstracts, including Translational bioinformatics; Workflows; Data analysis and visualization; and a new BOSC session on AI/ML. The FAIR and Open Data session set the stage for the closing panel, while a session on Open Science reflected the breadth of BOSC topics, including talks relating to open infrastructures and ecosystems, citizen science, training, outreach, and reproducibility. A well-attended joint session brought together BOSC and the Bio-Ontologies COSI for talks relating to standards (including, of course, ontologies) and frameworks for open science. 49 posters were presented at an overflowing poster session. The complete BOSC schedule is available at https://www.open-bio.org/events/bosc-2023/bosc-2023-schedule/.
BOSC 2023 closed with a panel on Open and Ethical Data Sharing that expanded upon some of the points made by the two keynote speakers, including the observation that there’s no published ethical code for bioinformaticians, and the idea that we individually, and our scientific societies, can be advocates for better practices in ethical data sharing. Along with moderator Monica Munoz-Torres, the panel featured our two keynote speakers (Sara El-Gebali and Joseph Yracheta) along with Verena Ras of the University of Cape Town and Bastian Greshake Tzovaras, who’s a leader in organizing citizen science projects.
Two well-attended evening events got BOSC participants mingling: a dinner at a casual food court, and a jam-packed party hosted by our sponsor GigaScience (see their ISMB/BOSC writeup at http://gigasciencejournal.com/blog/going-large-language-models-at-ismb2023/).
Speaking of sponsors, we are grateful to our BOSC 2023 sponsors: Platinum Sponsor Chan-Zuckerberg Initiative, and Silver Sponsors GigaScience, Genevia, and Software Sustainability Institute. With their help, we were able to offer free registration to 15 BOSC participants, 13 of whom are from groups that are underrepresented in our communities.
We hope to see you (in person in Montréal, Canada, or online) at BOSC 2024, which will be part of ISMB 2024 from July 12-16, 2024!