Bellairs Research Institute 

McGill University

Holetown, Barbados

Barbados Workshop on the Computational Identification and Analysis of Transposable Elements

April 18th - 25th, 2014
Mathieu Blanchette (McGill U.)
Thomas Bureau (McGill U.)


The workshop (the 10th in a successful annual series on topics in computational biology) will bring together approximately 20 genomics, biology, and bioinformatics researchers working in the field of transposable element identification, from researchers working on algorithm development to biologists expert on particular TE families. This intimate workshop will consist of a mix of talks and discussions. In addition to inviting each participant to present their own work, participants will to take part in discussions on the elaboration of standards and benchmarks for TE annotation. We believe that benchmarks are essential to help comparing the strengths and weaknesses of different approaches and learn how to improve them. Our hope is that the ideas discussed and the work that will follow would eventually lead to a high-impact publication.

We will probably not be able to reimburse your travel expenses or accommodation expenses. However, there will be no registration fees, and accommodation and food will be quite cheap (approx. 68-80 USD/day, including breakfast, dinner and accommodation). Accommodation at Bellairs is a bit on the sparse side (no phone or TV in the room, although a good wireless internet connection is available). However, the location (right on the beach, with excellent snorkeling in a protected coral reef mere meters from the shore!) and the excellent setting for informal group discussions and collaborations make up for it.


The workshop will start on the evening of April 18th 2014, with an informal reception. Talks and discussions will take place from April 19th to the afternoon of April 23th. Participants should plan to arrive on April 18th (if possible) and are free to stay until the 25th if desired (longer stays, either before or after the meeting, can probably be arranged).


The workshop schedule is designed to leave ample time for discussion and collaborative work. Each participant will be assigned a 60-minute time slot, which could typically include a 45-minute talk followed by 15 minutes of discussions. Talks and discussions will take place in the mornings and evenings, leaving the afternoons free for small workgroups, touring the island, or just enjoying the beach and the ocean. Although the workshop will end on the afternoon of April 24th, you are welcome to stay at Bellairs until the 25th, and longer stays could possibly be accommodated.


Although the goal of the workshop is obviously to get collaborative research done, we will also have time for leisure. The usual schedule is to have presentations and discussions in the morning (9:00-12:00) and evening (7:00-10:00+), but to leave the afternoons free for other activities. The Institute is located right on a quiet beach, excellent for sun bathing, snorkeling and scuba diving, wind surfing, etc., or just to work on projects with a bunch of good friends and a glass of Bajan Rum Punch. The island also has nice hiking trails, golf courses and surfing areas, all within one hour of (cheap) taxi or thrilling but convenient public transportation.

Location and accomodation

The Bellairs Research Institute is a owned by McGill University and used during the summer by marine biologists. The computer science department has been holding workshops there for more than 15 years, and bioinformatics workshop have started five years ago.

The Institute has space for about 35 people (in our case, ~25 scientists + a few family members) and offers relatively basic amenities. This is not a 5-star hotel! Most people will share a room with one other person. The rooms are clean and safe but have no phone or tv (but US cell phones work). The institute is equipped with fairly fast and reliable wireless connection, as well as with desktop few computers. Presentations and discussions usually take place either outdoors or in a air-conditioned conference room. The dinner is prepared by an excellent local chef, while we usually have lunch at one of a few local restaurants. People interested in other types of accomodation (e.g. hotel with more or better services) should contact me.

See this additional information about The Bellairs Research Institute.


There are no registration fees. The cost of a room for the entire week is approximately 42-50 USD/ day (depending on the type of room). Our cook prepares breakfast and dinners (approx. 25 USD daily); we typically have lunch at restaurants on the beach (approx. 20 USD daily).

Travel information

There are direct and affordable flights to Barbados from many canadian, american, and european cities. Once at the airport, Bellairs is easily reached by taxi, following these instructions.

Barbados is one of the richest islands of the Caribbean, and also one of the safest. English is the main language (although it is no longer a British Dominion) and the population is helpful and friendly. Credit cards and travelers checks are accepted. Precise traveling instructions will be sent to the participants later.

List of invited participants

Mark Batzer
Jeffrey L. Bennetzen
Casey Bergmann
Mathieu Blanchette
Guillame Bourque
Thomas Bureau
Pierre Capy
Josep Casacuberta
Sylvie Cloulier
Richard Cordaux
Cédric Feschotte
Aurélie Hua-Van
Ning Jiang
Jerzy Jurka
Emmanuelle Lerat
Wojciech Makalowski
Olivier Panaud
Dimitri Petrov
Hadi Quesneville
Francois Sabot
Alan H. Schulman
Arian Smit
Thomas Wicker

Mathieu Blanchette
Thomas Bureau