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EMBL, Five Countries Sign MOU to Create ELIXIR

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Five countries and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory have signed a memorandum of understanding to further a European initiative to create an infrastructure to manage and safeguard life science information.

The MOU was signed by Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom, as well as EMBL, with additional countries expected to join the initiative called European Life-science Infrastructure for Biological Information, or ELIXIR.

ELIXIR will be headquartered at EMBL's European Bioinformatics Institute in Hinxton, UK, with node sites expected at other centers of excellence throughout Europe. Its goal is to create a sustainable infrastructure for biological information in Europe and support life science research "and its translation to medicine and the environment, the bio-industries, and society to deliver economic growth," EMBL said in a statement.

ELIXR plans to make such information — about genes, proteins, and complex networks — freely available to researchers.

The MOU is a first formal, though not binding, step toward the implementation and construction of ELIXR, planned to kick off in November. EMBL and the countries that signed the MOU will be represented on the Interim Board, the main body for negotiating the final legal and governance structure of ELIXIR.

"ELIXIR has the potential to make a real and lasting difference to Europe's citizens – access to data is central to answering the pressing problems of our time, including food security and the health and well-being of an aging population," Janet Thornton, director of EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute and coordinator of ELIXIR, said in a statement.

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