Facebook Pixel BISC History | Western Kentucky University Skip to main content

BISC History

bisc logo


Bioinformatics and Information Science Center


Mission Statement

The mission of the Bioinformatics and Information Science Center at WKU is to build and maintain an interdisciplinary community, with student engagement, that will collaboratively propose and solve problems in bioinformatics and information science.

As part of its mission, BISC will develop goals and procedures to:

1. Advance bioinformatics and information science at WKU by bringing together members of the research community who are interested in informatics.

2. Advance learning by engaging students in experiences that combine technical skills, scientific integrity, collaboration, and real-world opportunities.

3. Develop a support network for bioinformatics and information research and projects through collaboration and consulting.

4. Build a strong interdisciplinary curriculum that will prepare students to compete in an expanding world of information science, enter the informatics workforce, and excel in graduate informatics programs.

5. Help members compete for external funding through grants, contracts, and endowments; and to present and publish their results in appropriate venues.

Faculty and staff from all disciplines are invited to join BISC as a full or an associate member. As a full member, faculty will have the opportunity to contribute to the development of policies to fulfill the mission of the center, participate in consulting, mentor students in applied research, and help build a cross-disciplinary curriculum in bioinformatics and information science. As an associate member, faculty will be able to establish collaborations with BISC members and are encouraged to support the mission of the center in any way that they can.

The Reasons for Establishing BISC

While the field of bioinformatics is about a decade old and we are seeing the first output of graduates spilling into the marketplace, the volume of data that is being pulled under the bioinformatics umbrella is spiraling upward at an exponential rate that demands an even larger number of scientists be trained in this field! At a the 2005 UT-ORNL-KBRIN Bioinformatics Summit a session was devoted to bioinformatics education. After considering a number of graduate options the conclusion was that the preparation for graduate work in bioinformatics needs to be moved down to the undergraduate level. Recently, the National Science Foundation funded an initiative that would prepare instructors at undergraduate institutions to teach an entry level bioinformatics course.

Why WKU? Over the course of the last six years, three undergraduate students at WKU have chosen to double major in Recombinant Genetics and Computer Science with a minor in Mathematics.

The first of these students, when interviewing for a position as a laboratory technician, found that the principle investigator created a brand new position so that he could hire him to do bioinformatics work. When that same principle investigator gave a seminar at WKU last year, he mentioned the name and work of this student more than he did the post-docs and graduate students, due to the impact that bioinformatics had on the research.

The second student applied to the top-notch graduate bioinformatic programs in the nation. Consistently, he was enthusiastically invited to join each of the graduate programs where he interviewed because of his broad background in molecular biology, computer science and mathematics, coupled with his undergraduate research experience in bioinformatics.

The third student similarly was accepted into the graduate program of his choice based on his broad background and applied experience.

These anecdotal examples show that the elements, needed to prepare students for productive work in the field of bioinformatics, are housed at WKU.

The need to apply bioinformatics to research questions is becoming almost pervasive in the biological sciences. As more information becomes available and more tools are developed there is a need to support existing scientists in their work. Collaborations and consultations across disciplines are therefore necessary to keep biologist on the cutting edge of research. The development of educational outlets to keep existing scientists and students abreast of the rapid developments in the field of bioinformatics is also a necessity.

Therefore, since the expertise is located at WKU and the demand for trained students is increasing, why not use the demand for bioinformatics found in the biological sciences to provide a hands-on experience for the students and at the same time provide a valuable service to these research programs? And so the idea for BISC was born.

Another factor contributing to the establishment of BISC is the Advanced Research and Technology Program (ARTP) located at WKU. This Program of Distinction is funded by an initiative from the Council on Post-secondary Education to foster the development of programs that will encourage the allocation of resources to improve research, student engagement and curriculum improvement. As BISC organizes, and becomes an entity, support will be sought from ARTP to foster its development.

Timeline for BISC Creation (Tentative)

Date Activity Result

Jan 31, 2006 Visit with Ferrell about the possibility of a BISC Positive. Received go ahead to initiate discussions with departments and faculty.

Feb. 2006 Initial introduction to CS, Math, & Biology departments and faculty Positive responses. Faculty interested in seeing what everyone is doing. Suggested a mini-conference with pre-conference project descriptions made available.

Mar 2006 Mini-conference, Scheduled for March 28, 2006, 6-8:30 PM.

Apr 6-26 2006 Finalize membership, choose directors and request BISC membership in ARTP.

May5, 2006 BISC was organized and a request was made to the dean to become part of the ARTP. BISC name was approved. Members were approved. Co-directors were chosen, Rinehart & Ziegler. Mission statement and goals were approved. Committees were approved and partially filled.

Provost Approval

Board of Regents Approval

Fall 2006 Seminar series begins

Workshops begin

BISC Bylaws

(The bylaws are numbered to correspond with the items in the mission statement)

1.  The WKU Bioinformatics and Information Science Center (BISC) Community


  • Membership in BISC is open to faculty and staff at WKU that wish to participate in the bioinformatics and information science research community
  • As a full member, faculty will have the opportunity to contribute to the development of policies to fulfill the mission of the center, participate in consulting, mentor students in applied research, and help build a cross-disciplinary curriculum in bioinformatics and information science.
  • As an associate member, faculty will be able to establish collaborations with BISC members and are encouraged to support the mission of the center in any way that they can.
  • Affiliate status is open to individuals or organizations inside or outside the WKU research community that wish to collaborate with BISC or its members.
  • Application for membership must include a letter of intent and a CV to the BISC director. The letter must include:
    • How applicant feels that they can contribute to the Center, including any potential collaboration.
    • How the Center can support the applicant.
    • A commitment to be an active member of the BISC and willing to participate in the BISC Consulting Committee (see 2.1.2) and seminars.
    • Membership will be awarded upon approval of the majority of the BISC members.

Membership in ARTP

  • The BISC is a member of the Advanced Research and Technology Program (ARTP) at Western Kentucky University.
  • The BISC director will represent BISC on the ARTP director’s council and will communicate ARTP initiatives to the BISC membership.


  • Directors
    • The BISC will have two elected directors. Support by a simple majority  of  all  the BISC members is necessary for election to a director track position.
    • The term for an elected director will be four years. The first year’s service will be as an assistant director, under the guidance of the director. The second year’s service will be as the director, and will be in consultation with the past director. The third year’s service will also be as the director who mentors a newly elected assistant director. The fourth year’s service will be as a past director who consults with the new director.
      • The Director:
        • Serves as the collective bargaining negotiator for the BISC, and as such, represents the BISC in matters of policy, contracts and funding pursuits.
        • Is responsible for representing the BISC in the POD and ARTP. The Director will ensure that proper reporting is done to these programs.
        • Has operational oversight of the BISC consultation services.
        • Drafts the annual budget and revises it to meet the approval of the majority of the BISC members.
        • Ensures that the BISC follows its budget plans.
        • Reports annually, to the BISC members, on the income and expenditures for all accounts.
        • Accepts, reviews and takes action to resolve grievances within the BISC.
      • Role of the Assistant and Past Directors
        • The Assistant and Past Directors will work with the Director to administer the BISC and will assist with the responsibilities defined under the role of the Director.
    • Standing Committees
      • The Workshop and Seminar Committee
        • The Workshop and Seminar Committee will be responsible for organizing workshops that will introduce tools and concepts needed to work in the cross-disciplinary environment of BISC. This committee will also be responsible for recruiting speakers, both internal and external, to address the broad interests of the membership in regular seminars.
      • Curriculum Committee
        • The Curriculum Committee is charged with reviewing courses within the college that support cross-disciplinary education in bioinformatics and information science.
      • The Executive Committee
        • The Executive Committee will serve to draft and review the operational procedures of BISC.
        • This committee will review and approve funding of proposals for center supported projects.
        • This committee will work with the co-directors to help the BISC fulfill its mission and goals.
        • This committee is charged with pursuing funding appropriate for building the center's infrastructure and program.

External Advisory Board

  • Through the ARTP, one or more external advisors will be invited to review the yearly progress of the BISC.

BISC Meetings

  •  At least one annual business meeting will be held to:
    • Consider election of Directors (if necessary).
    • Approve of the budget, saving plan, and endowment plan.
    • Hear reports from the BISC Consultation Committee.
    • Consider recommendation from the external advisory board.
  • Regular BISC sponsored workshops and seminars will be held to facilitate the exchange of interest and expertise between the members and to invite the exchange of ideas from outside the BISC.

2.  Engaging Students

  • Use students in the BISC Consulting Committee work.
  • Support student research with BISC members.
  • Support student presentation of research results at professional meetings.
  • Encourage students to participate in cross-disciplinary research.

3. Develop a network

  • Use workshops and seminars to encourage information exchange that can lead to collaborations.
  • Encourage participation at annual regional KY/TN Bioinformatics Conference.
  • Invite Seminar speakers from regional schools.
  • Tap into interactive bioinformatics seminars offered through GRID or other technology.

4. Undergraduate Curriculum

  • Design a strong cross-disciplinary curriculum that will support a major or minor in bioinformatics and information science.
  • Review the curriculum regularly.

5. The BISC will use revenues to support members in the creation of grant proposals, paper development, and meeting attendance.

BISC Administration

full story...


The reason for establishing BISC

full story...


Timeline for BISC creation

full story...


BISC Bylaws

full story...


Some of the links on this page may require additional software to view.

 Last Modified 4/24/18