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UK Government Commits $117M to Europe's ELIXIR Bioinformatics Infrastructure

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The UK has committed £75 million ($117 million) to support infrastructure development for the European Life-science Infrastructure for Biological Information, or ELIXIR, making good on a pledge made earlier this year to fund the project.

In February, the European Bioinformatics Institute and the UK's Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council said that the UK government had earmarked "substantial" financial support to build a central ELIXIR hub at EBI but could not confirm the grant amount at the time (BI 2/11/2011).

The new hub will serve as the "nerve center" for bioinformatics in Europe and its researchers will coordinate the delivery of services and user training from several centers of excellence across Europe, EBI said. The center will also provide computing infrastructure for managing data.

In a statement, Søren Brunak, director of the Technical University of Denmark's center for biological sequence analysis and chair of the interim ELIXIR board, described the UK government's support for the EBI hub as "a very important milestone in the development of the distributed infrastructure."

He added that the hub will provide "strong coordination of activities across the different nodes in Europe."

ELIXIR is a pan-European initiative funded by the European Commission and led by EBI.

In September, the European Molecular Biology Laboratory and five European countries — Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK — signed a memorandum of understanding under which they agreed to set up a permanent structure for ELIXIR and contribute to the project's budget.

The MoU marked the end of a four-year preparatory phase for ELIXIR and formally committed the signatories to support the bioinformatics infrastructure that will be built over the next five years. Several other EU states are expected to sign the MoU in the near future (BI 9/16/2011).

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