SysMod Governance Rules

This section defines who is involved in coordinating SysMod, and how and when other individuals replace them. This structure may be subject to change depending on the community’s requirements.

The SysMod community is first divided into the following three broad groups to establish roles and responsibilities:

  1. Active Coordinators
  2. Scientific Advisory Board
  3. Volunteers
  4. Alumni

The following sections describe these groups in more detail.

Active Coordinators

The team of current coordinators maintains the SysMod community infrastructure and organizes all community events. The team annually publishes a summary article about their activities in a dedicated ISMB partner journal. The responsibilities of the coordinator team are primarily focused on tasks around organizing the annual SysMod community event, which includes year-round activities for community bonding, outreach, infrastructure maintenance, communication with ISMB, and keynote speakers. Every coordinator helps in the review process of submissions and abstracts and promotes the main SysMod events. The active coordinators should attend 80% of the meetings and the coordinators will be deactivated if this attendance requirement is not fulfilled.

Scientific Advisory Board

The scientific advisory board meets at least once per year to monitor and assess the direction in which the community develops. Since the advisors are not involved in the organizational details of the community, their role is to advise the coordinators regarding the long-term vision, direction, and aims of the community. One meeting should be scheduled no later than six to eight weeks after each ISMB conference to reflect how the primary annual event was perceived and provide feedback and new ideas for future event planning. During this meeting, key aspects of community bonding and strategic planning should also involve thinking about potential keynote speakers for the following main event. It is reasonable to set up two meetings a year to facilitate separate meetings to reflect on the previous event and plan for future direction. The scientific advisory board may schedule internal meetings before inviting the active coordinators as necessary.

In addition to this advisory activity, SAB members are also responsible for announcing and promoting SysMod events through well-known channels such as mailing lists or social media due to their higher profile.

To assure and control the quality, performance, and effectiveness of the coordinators’ team, the scientific advisory board reviews internal documents of the current coordinators, including definitions of the governance structure, roles, and responsibilities of team members and documentation of standard operating procedures.

The regular term for a scientific advisory board member shall be three years. Members of the SAB may step down at any time, in which case the current coordinators seek to replace the board member to keep the board operational. Ideally, the number of board members should not exceed three to five advisors. A retired board member may be admitted to the alumni circle upon request or leave SysMod if preferred.


Volunteers organize social SysMod events that take place during the meeting days e.g. dinners. Volunteer responsibilities include finding and reserving venues and advertising these events to meeting participants.


Alumni are SysMod coordinators or members of the SAB after stepping down from a term. Alumni do not have any formal responsibility regarding SysMod. Their continued contribution and involvement are solely based voluntarily and require arrangements with current coordinators. Alumni may request to be promoted to members of the Scientific Advisory Board.

Getting involved as a coordinator

Team members are suggested and elected by the SysMod community. SysMod coordinators should have previously participated as presenters in a SysMod meeting. A coordinator’s term ends after three years.

Roles within the board of SysMod coordinators

Details of the tasks are provided in the corresponding overview table as well as the more detailed table.

The coordinators vote for an executive chairperson from among themselves as a leader to organize and coordinate the team’s activities. Each coordinator, including the executive chairperson, decides which of the following roles they prefer to take in the organization of the team:

    1. Track chairpersons (ISMB track chairs)
    2. Assistant chairpersons (ISMB assistants)
    3. Responsible for communication (publicity and outreach) as well as for community activities and cooperation
  • Annual summary article coordinator?
  • SysMod schedule creator
  1. Responsible for finances and fundraising
  2. Liaison person (COSI Committee Representative)

The responsibilities are not mutually exclusive; members often coordinate one more than one responsibility. Each chairperson may alternatively choose to be entitled as chairwoman or chairman.

The following description provides an overview of the roles and responsibilities of all team members. Detailed standard operating procedures describe the individual tasks in more detail. They are subject to regular revision in the responsibility of the current coordinators under the mentorship of the scientific advisory board that reviews changes in the organization and governance structure.

Executive Chairperson

The executive chairperson holds the COSI Steering Committee Chair and has the following responsibilities:

  • Organize monthly telephone conferences (arrange the agenda, send out invitation emails with the link to the meeting platform used)
  • Strategic development planning of SysMod and managing its relation to other organizations based on advice from the SAB team
  • Supervise all other activities (make sure contributions come on time)
  • Coordinate annual re-affirmation of SysMod coordinators and rotations in roles
  • Give the opening speech at the yearly ISMB meeting if possible and desirable. Although it is permissible for the executive chair to close the ISMB meeting with a summary speech and award the best poster, these two honors should preferably come from a SysMod coordinator to be designated with exceptional involvement in that year.

ISMB Track Chairs

  • Coordinate review of abstracts.
  • Decide on keynote speaker invitations.
  • Schedule sessions and presentations.
  • Write an annual report of the meeting due to ISCB
  • Select poster award winner(s)

The track chairpersons distribute the abstracts between committee members responsible for reviewing and scoring them for the annual meeting. Next, in cooperation with coordinates, each chairperson’s responsibility is to submit strong and focused feedback for authors to address the acceptance or rejection of the abstracts. In the case of approval, the decision should be made in parallel to informing authors of an oral presentation or a poster session. This session should be done precisely to provide the audience opportunities for learning, networking, and exploring new ideas and concepts.

ISMB assistant Chairs

The assistant chairpersons act as ISMB assistants and are responsible for the following tasks:

  • Invite keynote speakers, provide instructions, organize their reimbursement
  • Organize the social event for speakers, coordinators, and community
  • Collect slides and PDFs of posters from presenters
  • Prepare certificates (or possibly prizes) for poster award winners

Socializing and professional exchange with community members have always been an essential aspect of SysMod. Therefore, the organizers should recommend locations for the social event one day earlier while the hybrid setting should be considered.

Publicity and outreach

The responsible person for communication as well as for community activities and cooperation organizes publicity and outreach activities:

  • Maintain the website (
    • Update/maintain the server.
    • Manage domain and SSL certificates.
  • Manage website content for ISMB meeting
    • Post poster
    • Post the meeting schedule, including abstracts
    • Post slides and posters
  • Maintain the calendar.
  • Manage email lists and announce meetings there (public mailing list and internal coordinators’ list).
  • Update poster for ISMB conference
  • Tweet announcements and news during events via the SysMod Twitter channel
  • Maintain our YouTube channel
  • Prepare a shared document and draft for the annual publication about the activities of SysMod.
  • Keep contact with other communities of special interest (COSIs) and possibly other organizations of similar interest areas outside of ISCB.

Website maintenance includes design, content provision, and regular updates are one of the primary assignments to keep the users on the stage. The responsible persons inform on required information and collect them from the other committees to put on the website; it ensures the availability of all technical functions and problems. The website informs about the conference series, especially past events and the current conference year.

This person is also responsible for announcing the next SysMod via social media channels and mailing lists. The yearly SysMode should be promoted via Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, mailing list, and other available resources. This is important to consider when and how the announcements should be spread. The responsible for communication coordinates such promotion activities with the scientific advisory board members, who may, for instance, further distribute social media posts under their name.

Recruit and support co-branded community activities

The responsible person for community activities and cooperation involves recruiting and supporting co-branded community activities. This includes:

  • Recruit community contributions, e.g., reach out to communities such as COBRA, CoLoMoTo, COMBINE, NetBio, BioVis, etc.
  • Help advertise activities
  • Post activities to the SysMod calendar
  • Organize the regular webinar events in cooperation with ISMB Academy and suggest/organize further external activities (seminars)

Finances and Fundraiser

The responsible for finances and fundraising takes care of the budget and financial coordination of the team, which includes communication with ISMB, where the account is maintained. The responsible for finance approves payments and purchases, reimbursements for speakers, and costs for awards:

  • Assess income and expenses each year
  • Evaluate support for ISMB scholarships and community activities
  • Recruit sponsorships for the ISMB track

Funders are rewarded with prizes for Bronze / Silver / Gold sponsorship. Their logo may be displayed in different places for $500 or above donations, including the SysMod website.

Liaison ISCB (COSI Committee Representative)

The liaison person is the COSI Committee Representative, whose task is to attend meetings with ISMB leaders.

Other tasks distributed among coordinators

  • Abstract reviewer: every coordinator together with volunteering SAB members and (based on their availability) SysMod alumni.

The election process

The person whose term ends assumes responsibility for organizing the next elections. This includes contacting the SysMod community to propose successors, although self-nominations are legitimate. SysMod coordinators should abstain from consecutive terms with an interruption of at least one year. Anyone is eligible to nominate candidates. Ideally, the coordination team should consist of six people to be most effective. The team determines its size and thus the number of members to be elected. Once a list of candidates has been drawn up, the outgoing coordinator organizes the election. Only SysMod community members who legitimize themselves by being members of the public SysMod mailing list at the time of the election are eligible to vote. Elections should be held annually within six weeks of the ISMB conference so that newly elected coordinators can attend the SAB meeting. The last task of the outgoing coordinator is to introduce their freshly elected successor into office, for which the latter participates once again in the subsequent video conference. Subsequently, the former coordinator is admitted to the alumni circle, and their successor takes their place.

Board members may not hold the office of coordinator at the same time. Should a board member be elected coordinator, they must resign from the board office to take up the new task.

Retirement of a coordinator

The terms of SysMod coordinators and members of the scientific advisory board end after three years. Typically, they may be admitted to the circle of SysMod alumni, which is purely an honorary title. Alternatively, they may leave SysMod without any further involvement. SAB members may step down at any time, in contrast to active coordinators who are bound to a three-year term with a one year break before they can be reelected.