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PRESS RELEASE: Philip Bourne wins the 2009 Benjamin Franklin Award
Submitted by J.W. Bizzaro; posted on Monday, April 06, 2009
Submitter Bioinformatics.Org is proud to present the 2009 Benjamin Franklin Award in the Life Sciences to Philip E. Bourne, Australian open-access evangelist and prolific computational biologist at the University of California San Diego (UCSD).

The annual award, presented by Bioinformatics.Org, the Bioinformatics Organization, is given to a scientist who epitomizes the open-source values espoused by the legendary inventor and statesman. Bourne will be presented with his award by J.W. Bizzaro, president of Bioinformatics.Org, at the 2009 Bio-IT World Conference & Expo in Boston on Tuesday, April 28. (Please see for more information on the event. More information on the Award can be found at

One of Bourne's nominators said: "If Benjamin Franklin could observe not only his contributions, but Phil's generous spirit, infectious energy, and passion for science, he would be proud to count Phil Bourne as a colleague of the highest esteem."

Bourne was nominated for his numerous and varied contributions to both open access in bioinformatics and computational biology as well as his innovations with the Protein Data Bank (PDB). A past president of the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB), Bourne is the founding editor-in-chief of PLoS Computational Biology, one of the open-access journals launched by the Public Library of Science. In just four years, the journal has become the highest impact factor journal in the niche of mathematical and computational biology. Bourne is also a co-founder (with PLoS) of the website, which allows scientists across many disciplines to upload videos, lectures, presentations and posters. SciVee is one of four companies that Bourne has helped launch.

As co-director of the PDB, Bourne has transformed an under-utilized database into a major international resource. "He has been instrumental in establishing data standards for macromolecular structure data and for requiring that macromolecular structures deposited in the PDB are also published in a journal," praised one of his award nominators. This policy "increases exposure of the structural data and enforces a certain level of data quality." Another project is the BioLit project, which aims to integrate electronic literature directly with the PDB and similar resources by taking advantage of the increasing open accessibility of life sciences literature.

Bourne originally trained as a chemist, earning his PhD in chemistry in 1980 from the Flinders University in Australia. After a postdoctoral fellowship at Sheffield University in the UK, he moved to New York and later became director of the Cancer Center Computing Facility at Columbia University, where he helped establish a tumor registry and various applications and databases in support of patient care. Bourne is also a senior advisor to the life sciences at the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC).

(Kevin Davies contributed to this press release: [link])

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