PSB'21 Workshop on Social, Technical, and Ethical Challenges in Biomedical Data Privacy

Pacific Symposium on Biocomputing

January 3-7, 2021

Fairmont Orchid Resort, Kohala Coast


With decreasing cost of biotechnology, the amount and the size of the available biomedical data have exponentially increased and become available to wider audiences. Hence, privacy of patients and study participants has recently emerged as one of the major foci of studies. Availability of genetic and health care information gives rise to privacy concerns such that people suffer dignitary harm when their data is used in ways they did not desire or intend, even if no concrete economic damage results. In this workshop, we propose a practical and interactive exploration of the technical and ethical frames that govern data sharing and use to advance human health from a privacy perspective. We will discuss the ethical and moral frames through which we can consider privacy, the existing regulations regarding privacy and what is on the horizon, and implementation of such ethical considerations for data with the new Common Rule. We will also discuss the approaches to ensuring privacy using technology, in which we will discuss the technologies that allow responsible use and sharing of data such as encryption and the quantification of privacy leakages in publicly available data through privacy attacks for better risk-assessment tools. We will end the workshop with a panel discussion. The mission is to bring together computational biologists, experimental biologists, computer scientists, ethicists, and policy and lawmakers to share ideas, discuss the challenges related to biological data and privacy and hopefully create collaborations.

Call for Abstract Submissions

We are inviting biological data security and privacy researchers to submit abstracts to this workshop. Selected abstracts will get short presentation slots at the workshop. This is a unique opportunity for PSB as overwhelmingly the presentations are selected from full published papers in the proceedings. If you have work you published before or still in progress and not ready for full publication, we would like to have you as one of our speakers.

Please submit your abstract by August 15, 2020 to

Examples of topics within the scope of this session include but are not limited to:
  • Quantification of private information leakage in data taken from genomics, proteomics, metagenomics, bioimaging, biosensors, and personal health trackers
  • Privacy-preserving analysis and computation on biological data
  • Re-identification attacks against biological databases and counter-measures to protect individuals’ sensitive information
  • Privacy enhancing techniques and file-formats for data sharing
  • Storage and safety of biological data
  • Application of privacy and cryptography measures to the protection of biological data
  • Methods balancing openness of biological data and protection of individuals’ sensitive information
  • Workshop Organizers:

  • Contact: Gamze Gursoy, Yale University;
  • Steven E. Brenner, University of California, Berkeley;
  • Bradley A. Malin, Vanderbilt University;
  • Barbara Koenig, University of California, San Francisco;