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European Bioinformatics Institute to Receive Record Funding Increase from EC

NEW YORK, May 16 – The European Bioinformatics Institute and 25 of its collaborators will receive almost 20 million euros ($17.5 million) over three years from the European Commission, the EBI said Wednesday. 

The funding represents the largest-ever single injection of funds into the European bioinformatics infrastructure and is earmarked for four specific projects: DESPRAD (Development and Establishing of Standards and Prototype Repository for DNA-Array Data), EMSD (European Macromolecular Structure Database), IntAct (a public repository for protein-protein interaction data), and Integr8 (a project to build an integrated layer for the exploitation of genomic and proteomics data). 

The EC funding will be a substantial addition to the EBI’s core funding, which has historically lagged behind bioinformatics investments in the US and Japan. 

The EBI is an outstation of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory, which in November approved an unprecedented increase in the EBI’s funding. However, the 8.4 million euros in EMBL funds allocated for the EBI in 2001 still pales in comparison to the NCBI’s 2001 budget, which the EMBL Council estimated to be $42 million. 

EMBL’s total five-year budget for the EBI is 50 million euros. 

The total expected EC funding over three years for the four new projects is 19.4 million euros, of which 12.9 million euros are expected to be granted to the EBI, with the remainder distributed among the EBI’s 25 academic and commercial partners from 11 different countries. 

In addition to the EC funding, the Wellcome Trust recently awarded 12 million euros over five years to Ensembl, a joint project of the EBI and the Sanger Center.

Fotis Kafatos, EMBL director general, said the EC grants represent a strong, multilateral commitment to bioinformatics resources in Europe.

“EMBL is committed to enhancing the competitiveness of the life sciences in Europe through its world-class research, advanced training activities, and research infrastructure resources,” said Kafatos. “In the framework of the European Research Area, this project will permit our European Bioinformatics Institute and collaborators to develop powerful new informatics tools that are vital in the post-genomic era."