COMBINE is an Australian community group of research students originally centred in Melbourne, Victoria. We welcome all students who are doing research or are otherwise interested in computational biology, bioinformatics or any other area of computational and mathematical life sciences. Our main goals are to bring interested students together and to provide a platform for communication, knowledge sharing, and collaboration.
In the winter of 2007, a group of students from around Australia attended a winter school in Computational Biology at the Institute for Molecular Biology in Queensland. During the duration of the 5 day course it became apparent that many of us had travelled interstate and that a large number of us had come from institutes based in Melbourne. It was nice to finally meet other students that were working in the Bioinformatics space but unsettling to realise that we knew nothing about each other, or our research, even though we worked in a niche area in the same city! In addition, most of us felt as though we were alone in pursuit of research in Bioinformatics with most straddling a computer science department and biology based department with little actual expertise available in Bioinformatics proper. We therefore decided to set up a student support network for any students in and around Melbourne to meet and discuss research related to bioinformatics. Hence COMBINE was born. We initially formed a small committee to organise events and found some funding through NICTA to hold a social event and a seminar event. While these were extremely successful a lack of funding and work commitments meant that further group activity ceased for the majority of 2008. However, in 2009 with the launch of the ICT for Life Sciences Forum, funding returned and the group has been continuing since, running a successful student symposium in 2009 and 2010 and a number of social events and workshops up until the present.
As the official International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) Regional Student Group for Australia (RSG-Australia), COMBINE has been recently focused on encouraging student activities nationwide and adding representatives from around Australia.
The etymology of the name “COMBINE”
Originally we decided as a group to name our student organisation COMBIO, a hybrid of COMputational BIOlogy and BIOinformatics. However after a while we realised this name clashed with that of a conference so over a few drinks at one of our social events we came up with the name COMBINE. While still retaining some of the letters of COMputational BIology we thought that the word ‘combine’ aptly represented what most of us do: COMBINE knowledge from different disciplines to provide solutions to biological problems using computational methods.