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EBI to Lead $7M Project to Create Sustainable European Bioinformatics Infrastructure

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The European Commission has awarded €4.5 million ($7 million) to a consortium led by the European Bioinformatics Institute that will integrate Europe’s biological data resources into a “sustainable, integrative bioinformatics network for the life sciences,” EBI said today.
The project, called the European Life-science Infrastructure for Biological Information, or ELIXIR, involves 32 partners from 13 countries and aims to create a long-term infrastructure for biological information in Europe.
Biological databases currently depend on “insecure or short term funding, meaning that the valuable data they contain and provide access to, are jeopardized when funding ends,” EBI said in a statement.
EBI said that ELIXIR aims to address this issue by creating an infrastructure for storing, accessing, and integrating biological data that will be supported by a “secure funding mechanism.”
The project, funded under the EU’s 7th Framework Program, stems from a roadmap published in 2005 by the European Strategic Forum for Research Infrastructures that identified 35 large-scale European infrastructure projects, including the creation of a “shared platform for data resources in the life sciences.”
EBI submitted the proposal for ELIXIR in response to a restricted call to coordinators of these 35 projects.
The activities of ELIXIR are separated into two phases over three years: a preparatory phase, in which EBI will consult with the “stewards and users of Europe’s current biological resources to define the requirements, attributes and structure of the network;” and the implementation phase, in which EBI will report its findings from the preparatory phase and will seek “sustainable financial support” from national funding bodies.
According to the EBI, “key issues” that it seeks to define in the community consultation phase include:
  • how best to integrate “core and specialist” data resources, including the development of standards for emerging fields;
  • how the network can effectively connect with other interdisciplinary research areas;
  • how to meet the needs of related European industries; and
  • how to train life science researchers so that they can effectively use the information made available through the infrastructure. 
Further information on ELIXIR is available here.

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