GSC23: Talking standards in Bangkok

The GSC23 international meeting was held in Bangkok, Thailand earlier this month (Aug 7-11th) and here we have an overview of this meeting. The Genomic Standards Consortium (GSC) is a volunteer-run non-profit organization set up nearly 20 years ago. At a time when “genomic” researchers were painstakingly producing near-complete genomes of just a few organisms. A small group of researchers identified that the ever-growing volume of sequence data required a coherent set of metadata descriptors. Long before the acronym FAIR became a thing (some of the founding members of the GSC were involved drafting the original FAIR principles paper), the GSC started facilitating findable, interoperable, and reusable sequence data through its standards.

With our interest in genomics data and standards, GigaScience has had a long association with the consortium. Participating in many of the workshops since GSC13 and publishing a related Genomic Standards Consortium and Beyond thematic series upon our launch in 2012, and a number of overview papers and outputs from the workshops and consortium (right up to this weeks announcement commentary on the founding charter of the Omic Biodiversity Observation Network that was an output of GSC21 meeting in 2019). GigaDB Director Chris Hunter is currently a Board Member of the GSC, on the organising committee of the workshop this year, and GigaScience Press is also a Bronze Sponsor.

The GSC did hold an annual meeting in 2022, however, it was only small with a very select participants list. This meant that GSC23 was the first full-scale GSC annual meeting since GSC21 Vienna in 2019. More than 100 delegates from all over the globe were welcomed to the Faculty of Medicine, Siriraj Hospital, Mahidol University in Bangkok Thailand.

GSC23 group photo
GSC23 group photo
Traditional Thai puppets at the welcome reception
Traditional Thai puppets at the welcome reception

Due to the location at the medical school, the local organizers took the opportunity of so many international researchers visiting to put on a half-day education day for free, aimed at the student population of the hospital to learn more about the current situation in genomic research. This education day was well received by both presenters and participants. The welcoming reception was held the evening after the education day before the main event began the following morning. The local hosts had laid on a spectacular spread of food and traditional entertainment including a traditional Thai puppet performance.

With a degree of audience participation!

Chris Hunter getting to meet one of the puppets!
Chris Hunter getting to meet one of the puppets!

The main meeting started with a keynote lecture from Leslie Biesecker (NIH/NHGRI, USA). His presentation set the scene for session 1 on the importance of genome standards in Precision Medicine. He described how the use of genomics is enabling the paradigm shift from diagnostic testing of patients presenting with symptoms to one of screening asymptomatic populations to prevent serious illness.

Later, during the session on databases and publishing, I outlined how GigaDB makes use of the GSC standards in our dataset curation efforts.

A standard feature of GSC meetings is the abundance of working group sessions. GSC23 was no different with each afternoon being set aside to work on current GSC-related topics; Ramona and I co-chaired the compliance and interoperability working group (CIG) session, while Manop chaired a session on standards in personalized medicine. Both working groups were well attended. The CIG session in particular produced a list of updates required to the website, as well as a number of action points relating to the documentation of the LinkML version of the MiXS set of checklists.

The second and third days followed the same pattern; 2 speaker sessions each morning followed by working group sessions in the afternoons. Overall, the meeting was a huge success, and much credit must go to the local organizers for making it such a special event.

At the close of the meeting, it was announced that GSC24, is already being planned. It is to be co-located with the ISME19 meeting in Cape Town, South Africa in August 2024! Once again, GigaScience Press will be a sponsor, so watch this space for more details.


Schriml LM. A decade of GigaScience: 10 years of the evolving genomic and biomedical standards landscape. Gigascience. 2022 May 17;11:giac047. doi: 10.1093/gigascience/giac047.

Meyer R, et al. The founding charter of the Omic Biodiversity Observation Network (Omic BON). Gigascience. 2022 Dec 28;12:giad068. doi: 10.1093/gigascience/giad068.