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As Funding Runs out, Blueprint Halts Curation Activities for BIND Interaction Database

NEW YORK, Nov. 23 (GenomeWeb News) - The Blueprint Initiative, a non-profit research program based at the Samuel Lunenfeld Research Institute at Toronto's Mt. Sinai Hospital, has "fully expended available core funding in both Canada and Singapore," according to a notice on its website, and will stop curating the Biomolecular Interaction Network Database (BIND).


"No further funding is available at this time," the notice reads, adding that curation activities for the database have been "terminated."


Chris Hogue, principal investigator for the Blueprint Initiative, told GenomeWeb News that the project, which once employed as many as 70 curators in Canada and another 15 in Singapore, is down to a handful of staff. Hogue has two full-time members of his lab working on BIND now, but it looks like funding for their salaries will run out "early next year," he said.


In May, the Blueprint Initiative learned that its funding from Genome Canada would not be renewed because the project failed to meet a requirement to secure matching funds. At the time, the organization planned to move all of its curation capabilities to Blueprint Asia, the initiative's Singapore facility.


But Hogue said today that the initiative's Singaporefunding -- which came from Singapore's economic development board, the Genomics Institute of Singapore, and the National University of Singapore -- also required matching funds, which Blueprint was unable to secure.


In the meantime, Mount Sinai has pledged to host Blueprint Initiative resources, including BIND and the SeqHound data warehouse, while Hogue explores alternative means to support the effort.


In the notice on the BIND website, Hogue notes that "public databases are essential requirements for the future of life sciences research. The question arises will these be free or will they require a subscription. Should BIND/Blueprint be sustained as a public-funded open-access database and service provider?"


Hogue told GenomeWeb News that he would consider commercializing the database, but only as a "last resort" because he'd prefer to see BIND remain in the public domain.


"We're trying to do everything we can so we don't have to close those doors," he said.

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