Half a century ago when scientists started unravelling the biological secrets locked in DNA, the thought of science being awash with biodata would have been unthinkable. Today, whole new scientific disciplines are evolving to manage the sea of information generated by genomic and post-genomic analysis. To mark this transition, several leading organisations have created a new prize, this year celebrating breakthroughs where biological sciences meet computing.
The UK's Royal Society, the French Academy of Sciences and computing giant Microsoft have teamed up for a new prize honouring researchers working in Europe who have made a major contribution to the advancement of science through the use of computational methods. This year, The Royal Society and Académie des Sciences Microsoft European Science Award focuses on bio-computing. In 2007, it will venture where the physical sciences meet computing.
|New prize celebrating, this year, where information technology and biology meet.|
Nominations are still being sought for the 2006 prize. The award is open to research scientists of any nationality who have been resident in Europe for at least 12 months. However, members of the Royal Society's and Académie des Sciences' Councils, Microsoft employees and employees of other company research laboratories are ineligible.
The winner, to be announced later in the year, will receive a trophy and a monetary amount of €250 000 – of which €7 500 is a prize and the rest earmarked for further research. The award will be presented at a ceremony in London later this year.
Past achievements, future hopes
Submissions for the Award can be made online in two parts. The first part is to be completed by the nominator and outlines the person's scientific record and suitability for the award. While the second is to be completed by the nominee him or herself, describing how the research would be put to use. Nominations will be assessed by a special committee chaired by Professor Martin Taylor, vice-president of the Royal Society.
“Huge increases in computational power are, on a practical level, helping us exploit the human genome and could lead to the development of personalised medicines which reduce adverse reactions to drugs,” Taylor noted in a statement. Advanced computing know how is also helping us, for example, interpret data from telescopes and create models to predict future climatic changes, among other applications, he suggested.
Selection will be based on past achievement in the field, instead of the proposed research per se. The Society offers a number of other awards, medals and prizes. These often combine a prize and a lecture, or are run by the Society and a partner organisation, such as Microsoft Research, Further details can be found on the Society's website (see more info).
Last year, the Society generously hosted the Descartes Award Ceremony of the EU's prestigious prizes for excellence in collaborative research and for science communication (see Headlines 14 April 2006).
Royal Society, UK