Michael Ashburner on Collaborative Annotation Jamboree
  Michael Ashburner     Biography    
Recorded: 31 May 2003

But in some ways sequencing the genome, even a moderately science genome like drosophila which is 180 megabases, that’s the easy part. And the really hard part is to analyze the sequence and annotate it.

And with Gerry we decided that the way to do this was to get a group of experts together in what was called a jamboree. And so Gerry and I and Suzanna Lewis, who is head of informatics for Gerry in Berkeley, and who is here at this meeting, organized—working mostly with Mark Adams at Celera—and organized a two week meeting essentially at Celera which was held in November 1999, which we got, I think, forty people from the community to come and spend two weeks in Gaithersburg working with about an equal number of scientists from Celera to analyze the sequence. And that was the first time that this sort of collaborative annotation had ever been done. It’s been done many times since. All other groups have run jamborees for annotation. But this was the first one.

November 1999, which is the first annotation jamboree. There have been lots since; for human, for mouse and for other organisms. And it was very exciting. We lived like postdocs in some awful hotel. Gaithersburg, Maryland is not an attractive place. And we worked some sixteen hours a day and had huge rouse and it was very exciting.

Michael Ashburner, a leader in Drosophila Genetics and bioinformatics, received his B.A. (1964), M.A. (1968), Ph.D. (1968) and Sc.D. (1978) from the University of Cambridge, where he is currently professor of Biology in the Department of Genetics and a Professional Fellow of Churchill College.

He has been the joint head of European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and was co-founder of Flybase, the primary online database for Drosophila genetics and molecular biology, the Gene Ontology Consortium, an effort to coordinate biological databases through a defined taxonomy of gene function, and the Crete Meetings, a bi-annual event focusing on the developmental and molecular biology of Drosophila melanogaster.

Among many honors, he is the recipient of the G.J. Mendel Medal (Czech Republic 1998) and the George W. Beadle Medal (Genetics Society of America 1999).

Michael Ashburner