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UK Government Pledges Financial Support for ELIXIR Hub at EBI

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The European Bioinformatics Institute and the UK’s Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council said this week that the UK’s Large Facilities Capital Fund has earmarked funding for the European Life-science Infrastructure for Biological Information, or ELIXIR.

Mary Todd Bergman, the EBI outreach program project leader, told BioInform via e-mail that although the grant amount hasn’t been confirmed, “the funding is expected to be substantial.”

While the government has earmarked funding for ELIXIR, final approval is subject to approval of "a full business case and to the availability of funding," the UK's Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills said in a statement.

The funds will be used to construct ELIXIR’s central hub at EBI to ensure that biological data resources are maintained and expanded to support bioscience researchers in several disciplines. ELIXIR is a pan-European initiative funded by the European Commission and led by EBI.

This round of funding follows a $14.3 million grant from the UK’s BBSRC in 2009, which was also geared towards developing ELIXIR’s central hub (BI 08/28/2009).

Janet Thornton, director of EBI and coordinator of ELIXIR, said that the UK government’s support “lays the foundation for ELIXIR.”

She described the project as “the first step towards building a distributed infrastructure for biological information throughout Europe” that will ultimately “empower researchers in academia and industry to solve some of society’s most pressing problems.”

So far, ELIXIR has received funds from several UK institutions such as the Medical Research Council, the Natural Environment Research Council, and the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute as well as from the governments of Denmark, Finland, Spain, and Sweden. For example, last year, Denmark committed $7.2 million to the project to "ensure a strong Danish position in the planning and implementation of ELIXIR." (BI 01/12/2010).

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