BioVis 2012: Highlights from the 2nd Symposium on Biological Data Visualization

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Fig 2 Lindow et al BMC Bioinformatics 2013 14(Suppl 19)S5

As the volume of research data increases so does its complexity, and with it the need to find sophisticated solutions for visualisation. In this guest post, Nils Gehlenborg, one of the General Chairs of the organizing committee of the BioVis 2012 Symposium, guides us through some highlights from last year’s meeting. Published as a new Supplement in BMC Bioinformatics, this collection of articles brings together six of the meeting’s most notable submissions, and is co-edited by Organising Committee members Miriah Meyer and Jan Aerts.

Novel approaches for visualization of biological data are becoming ever more relevant in a time when data sets are rapidly growing in size and heterogeneity. Given the complexity of the challenges that are arising from these developments, it is clear that expertise from both the computational biology community and the visualization community is needed to evolve the field of biological data visualization. The Symposium on Biological Data Visualization (BioVis) plays a crucial role in this effort by acting as a catalyst for new collaborations, knowledge transfer, and ultimately scientific progress.

I am excited to see the Highlights from the 2nd Symposium on Biological Data Visualization published in BMC Bioinformatics. Thanks to the hard work of the authors, BioVis program and publication chairs, reviewers, sponsors, and the editorial staff at BMC Bioinformatics, papers based on the best submissions to BioVis 2012 are now available under an open-access license. The methods and tools described in these papers were presented at the BioVis symposium in Seattle in late 2012, and selected for their important contributions to the field biological data visualization.

Given the challenges ahead, it does not come as a surprise that the recent BioVis 2013 symposium at the IEEE VIS conference in Atlanta was also very well received. The need to advance biological data visualization in both the visualization and the computational biology communities is reflected in the growing number of participants in meetings like BioVis, as well as the increasing number of research publications and commentaries published on the topic in both the computer science and the biology literature.

To further promote the cross-disciplinary dialogue in biological data visualization, BioVis 2014 will move from the IEEE VIS conference to ISMB, the world’s premier conference on computational biology. If visualization of biological data is a challenge that you are facing or problem that you are working on, then make sure to mark your calendar for ISMB 2014 in Boston. The meeting is scheduled for July 11 and 12.

Fig 1 Strauch et al BMC Bioinformatics 2013 14(Suppl 19)S6

Nils Gehlenborg is a Research Associate in the Park Lab at the Center for Biomedical Informatics at Harvard Medical School and an Associated Researcher in the Cancer Program at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.

Miriah Meyer is an Assistant Professor in the School of Computing at the University of Utah, and Jan Aerts is an Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Engineering at Leuven University, Belgium.

BioVis 2012 – the 2nd IEEE Symposium on Biological Data Visualization – was held in Seattle, WA, USA from 14-15 October 2012. The conference aimed at “bringing together researchers from the visualization, bioinformatics, and biology communities to establish an interdisciplinary dialogue and to promote the sharing of expertise, between both meeting participants and the communities at large. The meeting is intended to educate, inspire, and engage visualization researchers in problems in biological data visualization, as well as bioinformatics and biology researchers in state-of-the-art visualization research.”