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Italy Joins Pan-European Bio Data Infrastructure Project

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Italy has signed up to be a partner in the European Life-science Infrastructure for Biological Information (ELIXIR) project, an effort to create a hub to house and share genomic, proteomic, and other biological research information across Europe.

The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) said today that Italy has inked a non-binding memorandum of understanding to join EMBL and 11 other partnering nations, giving Italy membership on ELIXIR's interim board, which is negotiating the final legal and governing structure of the resource.

The ELIXIR project is in the process of constructing a facility near Cambridge, UK, and is currently based out of the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute at the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus. Its core mission is to create a sustainable hub-and-node infrastructure for providing access to biological data to its partner nations in Europe and beyond.

To date, ELIXIR has been funded with €100 million ($121.9 million) from the UK; €6.9 million from Finland; €5 million from Denmark; €1.7 million from Sweden; €1.7 million per year for three years from Spain, and €6.5 million from Norway.

Along with those funding partners, other nations that have pledged to support ELIXIR include Estonia, Israel, the Netherlands, Slovenia, and Switzerland.

"ELIXIR aims to establish partnerships throughout Europe, and it is very positive that our coverage has expanded to include Italy – one of the largest populations in our part of the world," Danish Professor Søren Brunak, chair of the ELIXIR Interim Board, said in a statement. "We need the competence offered by Italy to complement those offered by the other participating nations so that we may build a strong data infrastructure in Europe. Italy has a long tradition in bioinformatics, and we can benefit from their expertise."

Anna Tramontano, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Rome, said Italy's participation in ELIXIR "represents an important opportunity for our national scientific community to contribute in a significant way to solving the critical problems in managing biological data, and transforming that raw data into knowledge."