After the success of CAMDA 2017 the MetaSUB International Consortium and the Scientific Programme Committee of the Conference on Critical Assessment of Massive Data Analysis (CAMDA) are pleased to announce their collaboration on the first ever multi-city study on forensic metagenomics. CAMDA focuses on one of the grand challenges of our time, which is the harnessing of Big Data in the biological sciences. The interpretation of large data sets is now one of the scientific key techniques in the post genomic era. The data analysis bottleneck limits genome scale experiments in providing new biomedical insights at a larger scale. The increasing need to analyze massive data sets is further accelerated by the rapid output of high throughput sequencing technologies and the increasing size of biomedical studies. As such, CAMDA aims to introduce novel approaches and solutions to the Big Data problem and present emerging techniques in the field of bioinformatics, data analysis, and statistics for handling and processing challenging large data sets. By discussing cutting-edge problems and opportunities, the conference offers researchers from a wide range of fields a unique opportunity to benefit from a critical comparative evaluation of approaches to exploiting Big Data in the life-sciences. Through community wide shared experiments, delegates collaborate in crowd-sourcing innovation for inter-disciplinary analyses.

Two vibrant communities join forces to coordinate the first comparative analyses of urban microbiomes across cities. These studies cover multiple cities around the world, with tens of samples per city. Together, they form a unique resource for the study of biodiversity within and across geographic locations or surface types. A key challenge in genomic forensics is the construction of a microbiome fingerprint which will allow the identification of the geographical origin of a sample. To complement the extensive primary dataset, three additional independent tests of ‘mystery samples’ are provided. Researchers worldwide are invited to compare their best work on these data, taking on the CAMDA Challenge, with prizes awarded to the winning contributions by vote of all delegates in an open-ended contest.

The MetaSUB and CAMDA@ISMB conferences provide joint venues for sharing and discussing first integrative / comparative results, including a route to coordinated publication of these, aiming for full research paper submissions September 2018. To maximize the benefits of this collaborative exploration all integrative / comparative analyses based on consortium data will be published as part of this strategic collaboration framework. The 17th CAMDA conference sessions will be held in Chicago, from Saturday through Sunday, July 7-8, 2018. As in recent years, CAMDA runs collaborates with International Society of Computational Biology and runs as a full conference track of their annual conference on Intelligent Systems for Molecular Biology (ISMB).