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BGI, U. of Birmingham Receive Funding to Develop Metabolomics Analysis Software Platform

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – The UK's Natural Environment Research Council is funding a partnership established by the University of Birmingham, BGI, and its open-access journal GigaScience to develop a software platform to analyze environmental metabolomics data on a large scale.

BGI did not disclose the amount of the funding, but said that it will pay for a developer from the university's School of Biosciences to travel to Hong Kong and work with GigaScience to develop the Galaxy workflow system for metabolomics data analyses.

The platform will be developed for use by non-specialist scientists in the analysis of metabolomics datasets, which has typically required "sophisticated" computational skills, limiting their usefulness to specialized laboratories, BGI said.

Environmental metabolomics allows researchers to discover diagnostic biomarkers to monitor and assess risks to the environment. Researchers at Birmingham have focused extensively on the metabolic responses of the model organism Daphnia to pollutants and engineered nanomaterials, and today's announcement is the first metabolomics project resulting from a partnership between the university and BGI announced last summer.

"This funding from NERC will enable a synergistic exchange of skills in the curation and automated analysis of large-scale data that we have in GigaScience with the University of Birmingham's expertise in metabolomics," Peter Li, data organization manager at GigaScience, said in a statement. "This is an area of the life sciences that is of great interest to BGI as they move and broaden their expertise from being a major genomics organization into more integrative research in the life sciences."