Today, the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) kicked off CSHALS 2014 in Boston MA. During the next two and a half days, I'm looking forward to listening to a number of presentations, case studies and discussions on real world applications within the pharmaceutical and healthcare industries.  This is our second year participating in this high quality conference serving computational biology and bioiformatics professionals.  CSHALS is a relatively small gathering of highly innovative scientists looking to leverage data standards and methodologies for life sciences, genomics, medicine and pharmaceutical R&D applications.

Dr. David Wood from 3 Round Stones opened the conference with an informative four hour interactive, hands on tutorial with about 25 pharmaceutical scientists, researchers and academics. About a quarter of the audience was new to Linked Data concepts.  I was delighted to see that the majority of the audience is already using Linked Data for a range of R&D activities within the healthcare and life science communities.  Many of the attendees are seeking to more effectively leverage the vast amount of open data from organizations such as the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Library of Medicine (NLM).  NIH and NLM, among other authorities, publish ever growing amounts of valuable data on the human genome, biomedical research, environmental health & toxicology and public health information.

The conference co-chairs Jonas Almeida from University of Alabama at Birmingham and Ted Slater of Yarc Data promise that attendees who are new to linked data technologies or looking for new approaches for wrangling big data will be enriched by industry leaders who are sharing their practice advice and state-of-the-art methods for solving scientific, clinical and business challenges.  Special thanks to the organizing committee members Chris Baker, Mike Bevil, Helena Deus and Mark Wilkinson who among other things provided peer review of the conference papers.  Your advice and guidance was invaluable.  Thank you.