Mr. Mallikarjuna Thippana, Ph.D. research scholar at the Department of Biotechnology and Bioinformatics, School of Life Sciences, University of Hyderabad (UoH), presented a paper titled “Identification and characterization of key long non-coding RNAs involved in cervical cancer progression using a systems biology approach” as a flash talk and poster under iRNA: Integrative RNA Biology track at a conference titled “ISMB/ECCB 2023 (31st Conference on Intelligent Systems For Molecular Biology and 22nd Annual European Conference on Computational Biology), held at Centre de Congrès Lyon, France from 23-07-2023 to 27-07-2023.

The International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) hosts its flagship meeting, the annual international conference on Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology (ISMB), to showcase the latest developments in bioinformatics/computational biology and foster interdisciplinary collaborations. ISMB/ECCB involved scientists from various fields, such as computer science, molecular biology, mathematics, and statistics. The conference program was developed with the active participation of the ISCB’s Communities of Special Interest (COSIs), which highlighted emerging or “hot” research areas and provided a stimulating and diverse scientific program.

In his paper, Mallikarjun explores the regulatory role of non-coding RNAs, especially lncRNAs, in cervical cancer. He applied a systems biology approach to identify and characterize the key lncRNAs that influence cervical cancer progression. His research revealed several novel lncRNAs that may modulate critical pathways and interact with oncogenes or tumor suppressors. These lncRNAs may serve as potential biomarkers or therapeutic targets and offer new insights into the molecular mechanisms of cervical cancer. This paper is part of his doctoral research project on integrative studies to explore key molecular players involved in cervical squamous cell carcinoma. The iRNA track and RNA Society have awarded him RNA Society membership and the opportunity to attend RNA2024 in Edinburgh, Scotland, UK. He also got potential contacts for future collaborations/training opportunities at a career fair organized by the ISCB.

The conference featured five keynote speakers from different countries and institutions, who shared their insights and expertise on various topics related to computational biology. They were Janet Kelso (MPI Evolutionary Anthropology, Germany), Dana Pe’er (Howard Hughes Medical Institute, US), Jingyi Jessica Li (UCLA, US), Hanah Margalit (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, Israel) and Mark Gerstein (Yale University, US) along with iRNA track chaired by Yoseph Barash, Klemens Hertel, Athma Pai and Michelle Scott with over 2089 in-person attendees from 71 countries.

Along with presenting his research at the conference, he also got an opportunity to be on the organizing team of the ISCB Student Council Symposium (SCS19), which is a student-organized event featuring keynote lectures, oral presentations and a poster session. It happens before the day of the main conference every year. He was also honored to be a moderator for the session on proteins, modelling and drug design, which featured five oral talks and one flash talk.

Mallikarjuna is immensely thankful to the Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), Department of Science and Technology, Government of India, for awarding the prestigious SERB-International Travel Grant to attend the conference. He is thankful to the Indian Council of Medical Research, Government of India, for supporting his doctoral thesis with Senior Research Fellowship. He also expressed his heartfelt gratitude to his Ph.D. advisor, Head of the Laboratory of Computational Functional Genomics, Dr. Vaibhav Vindal, for his encouragement, valuable guidance, and supervision throughout his research.