This year’s ISMB conference will take place in Chicago, USA from 6-10 July.

ISMB 2018 provides an intense multidisciplinary forum for disseminating the latest developments in bioinformatics/computational biology, fostering fresh dialogues and perspectives to learn about and shape the future of the field. With intensified community involvement form the ISCB Communities of Special Interest (COSIs), ISMB is the leading conference in the field, with the strongest scientific and technical program that showcases the best international developments in bioinformatics and computational biology.

BioExcel will be giving a talk at the conference, titled ‘Implementing a competency-based training strategy for biomolecular researchers with high computational needs’.


BioExcel, an EU-funded Centre of Excellence for computational biomolecular research, has pioneered a training program based on a competency-based needs analysis. Competencies are sets of knowledge, skills and attitudes (KSAs); existing frameworks including ISCB’s were used to create the BioExcel profile. The competencies were mapped against existing training and new courses have been developed to fill specific gaps. The needs analysis highlighted that training resources related to High Performance Computing (HPC) are almost exclusively at intermediate and advanced level and require background knowledge of computing that many life scientists lack.

Using the competencies and KSAs, BioExcel has designed and delivered two training courses to address this gap. (1) Foundation skills for HPC in computational biomolecular research is a primer for people wanting to use HPC but who find the concept quite daunting and lack the needed computational skills. The course uses project-based learning and examples from day-to-day work (e.g. obtaining data, installing software), to empower life scientists to get the most out of using computers. (2) Hands-on Introduction to HPC for life scientists, focusses on basic HPC concepts, helping users judge how HPC can benefit their research, and equip them to efficiently make use of HPC (with PRACE).