The 17th International NETTAB workshop was held in Palermo, Italy, on October 16-18, 2017. The special topic for the meeting was "Methods, tools and platforms for Personalised Medicine in the Big Data Era", but the traditional topics of the meeting series were also included in the event. About 40 scientific contributions were presented, including four keynote lectures, five guest lectures, and many oral communications and posters. Also, three tutorials were organised before and after the workshop. Full papers from some of the best works presented in Palermo were submitted for this Supplement of BMC Bioinformatics. Here, we provide an overview of meeting aims and scope. We also shortly introduce selected papers that have been accepted for publication in this Supplement, for a complete presentation of the outcomes of the meeting.