What is BOSC?

The Bioinformatics Open Source Conference promotes and facilitates the open source development of bioinformatics tools and open science.

BOSC has been part of ISMB every year except for 2018 and 2020. In 2020, BOSC partnered with GCC to form the Bioinformatics Community Conference, BCC2020. In 2018, BOSC was held jointly with GCC as a combined GCCBOSC2018.

BOSC 2023 took place July 26-27 as part of ISMB/ECCB 2023, in person in Lyon, France, and online. BOSC 2024 (the 25th annual Bioinformatics Open Source Conference) will take place July 15-16, 2024, as part of ISMB 2024, in Montréal, Canada and online.

Screenshot from BOSC 2021

BOSC aims to:

  • Provide developers with a forum for displaying their work to the wider research community;
  • Provide a focused environment for developers and users to interact and share ideas about software development, open science, and practical techniques in bioinformatics;
  • Promote Open Science, with its focus on sharing data and tools, transparency, reproducibility, and data provenance;
  • Inform the research community of important developments in Open Source Bioinformatics.

All the BOSCs

In recent years the BOSC meetings have been preceded or followed by a two day CollaborationFest, an informal community collaboration event. Initially called CodeFest, the event was renamed CollaborationFest in 2018 to reflect the fact that it’s not just about coding.

Get Involved

There are many ways to get involved with the conference:


There’s no conference without attendees! Your presence is crucial to the success of the event, and we’re always happy to see new faces. We encourage everyone to attend the main meeting and/or CoFest, interact with other attendees, and tweet about their experience.

Present your Work

Our focus is on open source work and communities. Code presented at BOSC must be open and properly licensed. If your work is more about training materials than code, we’d like your materials to be open and licensed so others can benefit from it!

In the early days of BOSC, an abstract that was basically “I wrote some bioinformatics code, and it’s open source” was good enough to merit at least a short talk, but we’ve grown since then. Even if a project is new and therefore doesn’t yet have a community, there should be some sort of plan for building a community of users and/or developers.

Even with the hard requirement of openness, we do try to provide a platform to everyone who wants to present. We have “long” talks (17 minutes + 3 minutes for questions), short/”lightning” talks (5 minutes), posters and Birds of a Feather sessions.

Organize a BoF

“Birds of a Feather” groups are self-organized meetings during BOSC where anyone who wants to have a conversation with the community can gather and share. Usually BoFs are submitted through the conference website, and the list of topics will be available to all attendees. These tend to happen over lunch or dinner, or in the evenings, and can be a great way to meet people in smaller, more accessible groups. Past BoFs have included project introductions, sponsor demos, discussions on diversity and inclusion, and conversations about specific technologies or standards.

Review Abstracts

Conference abstracts are reviewed by volunteers who express their interest. We encourage reviewers to be constructive in their comments, and many sign their reviews. Most reviewers are assigned 3-5 abstracts per call, and there are two calls per conference (the main one, and a “late breaking lightning talk” round). We acknowledge our reviewers on the conference website and in the program. If you’d like to be a reviewer, contact the organizing committee at bosc@open-bio.org.

screenshot from BOSC 2021

Join the Organizing Committee

The organizing committee does most of the work to make BOSC a successful meeting. Committee members help write communications to reviewers, participants, and attendees; decide on the program; design conference materials; find dinner locations; chair sessions during the conference; and more! The workload gets heavy in two waves: first when abstracts are being reviewed and the program is being put together, and again as the conference gets closer. Most organizing committee members start out by becoming abstract reviewers.

We acknowledge organizing committee members on the conference website and in the program, and they are entitled to complimentary conference registration if their institution/employer can’t cover it.

Sponsor BOSC and/or CoFest

The Open Bioinformatics Foundation welcomes donations to help support the BOSC and CoFest events. Please see the Sponsors page for more information.