BigLS - Big Data in Life Sciences

ACM International Workshop on Big Data in Life Sciences

In conjunction with the ACM Conference on Bioinformatics, Computational Biology and Health Informatics

Saturday, September 20, 2014
Newport Beach, CA


Call for Papers

The ever-growing volume and diversity of biological and biomedical data collections continues to pose new challenges and increasing demands on computing and data management. The inherent complexity of this Big Data forces us to rethink how we collect, store, combine and analyze it. BigLS, pronounced "Beagles", is a workshop dedicated to the broad theme of Big Data in life sciences. The goal of the workshop is to bring together leading researchers and practitioners working on a diverse range of Big Data problems relating to biology and medicine, and engage them in a discussion about current Big Data problems, the state of computational tools and analytics, the challenges and the future trends within life sciences. In this context, the workshop focus is on, yet is not limited to, the following broad themes:

In addition to regular papers catering to the above spectrum of topics, we also invite "position papers" to highlight some of the grand challenge scientific problems from a biological standpoint, existing or emerging, that require Big Data analytics, along with related challenges and advances. The workshop will feature contributed papers as well as invited talks from reputed researchers in the field.

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Keynote Address

The BigLS workshop is devoted to promoting the highest standards in research and education. As a part of this mission, BigLS features keynote presentations by recognized leaders and luminaries who significantly advanced the domain. This year keynote address will be delivered by Larry Smarr - the founding Director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), a UC San Diego/UC Irvine partnership, and the Harry E. Gruber Professor in Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) at UCSD’s Jacobs School.

Quantifying Your Superorganism Body Using Big Data Supercomputing

The human body is host to 100 trillion microorganisms, ten times the number of cells in the human body and these microbes contain 100 times the number of DNA genes that our human DNA does. The microbial component of this "superorganism" is comprised of hundreds of species spread over many taxonomic phyla. The human immune system is tightly coupled with this microbial ecology and in cases of autoimmune disease, both the immune system and the microbial ecology can have dynamic excursions far from normal. Our research starts with trillions of DNA bases, produced by Illumina Next Generation sequencers, of the human gut microbial DNA taken from my own body, as well as from hundreds of people sequenced under the NIH Human Microbiome Project. To decode the details of the microbial ecology we feed this data into parallel supercomputers, running sophisticated bioinformatics software pipelines. We then use Calit2/SDSC designed Big Data PCs to manage the data and drive innovative scalable visualization systems to examine the complexities of the changing human gut microbial ecology in health and disease. Finally, I will show how advanced data analytics tools find patterns in the resulting microbial distribution data that suggest new hypotheses for clinical application.

Larry Smarr is the founding Director of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology (Calit2), a UC San Diego/UC Irvine partnership, and holds the Harry E. Gruber professorship in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering (CSE) of UCSD’s Jacobs School of Engineering. Before that he was the founding director of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, as well as a Fellow of the American Physical Society and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2006 he received the IEEE Computer Society Tsutomu Kanai Award for his lifetime achievements in distributed computing systems. He is a member of the DOE ESnet Policy Board. He served on the NASA Advisory Council to 4 NASA Administrators, was chair of the NSF Advisory Committee on Cyberinfrastructure for the last 3 years, and for 8 years he was a member of the NIH Advisory Committee to the NIH Director, serving 3 directors. He was PI of the NSF OptIPuter project and of the Moore Foundation CAMERA global microbial metagenomics computational repository. His personal interests include growing orchids, snorkeling coral reefs, and quantifying the state of his body. You can follow him on his life-streaming portal at

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Travel grants

Thanks to the support from the NSF, the BigLS workshop will offer the travel grants for students and postdoctoral researchers from US academic institutions. These awards are independent from the main ACM BCB conference grants, and candidates can apply only for one of them. In order to apply candidates should submit before August 20 the following materials to Dr. Jaroslaw Zola <> (priority will be given to females and under-represented minorities):

  1. A statement letter from the applicant, that includes i) a brief summary of research area and achievements, ii) explains how applicant will benefit from the BigLS workshop. Candidates should demonstrate interest in Big Data problems related to life sciences.
  2. A supporting letter from the applicant's supervisor/advisor, including confirmation that the student is in good academic standing, confirmation how the BigLS scope is relevant to his/her research, and how applicant will cover potential expenses not covered by the award (e.g. per diem).
  3. Title of a paper/poster accepted for presentation at BigLS (if any).

At the minimum the award is expected to cover the entire ACM BCB conference registration and hotel lodging (two nights for the duration of the workshop). Based on funding availability, additional support will be provided to cover parts or whole of the airfare and lodging expenses for the remaining duration of the conference. All questions regarding the BigLS travel awards should be directed to Dr. Jaroslaw Zola. To avoid miscommunication (e.g. email being flagged as spam) please do not hesitate to contact Dr. Zola again if you get no confirmation of your application within one day.

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Submission Guidelines

Submitted manuscripts should not exceed 8 pages in the ACM template on 8.5 x 11 inch paper. All submissions will be evaluated based on their originality, technical soundness, significance, presentation, and interest to the workshop attendees. All accepted papers of registered authors will be included in the ACM BCB proceedings published by the ACM Digital Library. Details for electronic submission can be found on the ACM BCB conference web portal. To submit you paper please use this link:

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Important Dates

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Workshop Co-chairs

Program Committee

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BigLS Archive

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