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BBSRC shows UK commitment to European bioinformatics agreement

UK commitment to European bioinformatics agreement - 4 September 2013. iStockphoto

The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), on behalf of the UK bioscience research community, has signed an agreement that will enable maximum impact of Europe's bioscience research data. BBSRC is the first national organisation to endorse the permanent establishment of the European Life-Science Infrastructure for Biological Information (known as ELIXIR), which supports European R&D by linking biological data, analytic tools and scientific literature, and ensuring they remain freely available to scientists of all disciplines.

BBSRC has put its weight behind the initiative by signing the European Consortium Agreement (ECA), which will come into force when four further countries sign. BBSRC's backing underscores the importance of a co-ordinated, international effort to manage, upgrade and maintain Europe's vast quantities of biological data, and to establish new resources as science advances.

Professor Douglas Kell, BBSRC Chief Executive, said: "The amount of new biological data continues to increase, yet the capacity of computer storage and processing is not keeping up with the rate of increase. Without significant investment in bioinformatics services and improved skills training throughout Europe, we will rapidly lose the capacity to provide the research community with access to the treasure trove of public data in the life sciences."

"Through this agreement, BBSRC, on behalf of the UK, is showing its commitment to a successful response to the informatics opportunities that are available in order to achieve maximum scientific impact for the benefit of us all."

The ECA will form the legal basis for ELIXIR, establish an organizational structure and commit the signatories' support. The infrastructure will facilitate efficient retrieval and swift exploitation of molecular information generated by research, notably from UK-funded research breakthroughs made possible by advanced DNA sequencing technology. Importantly, it will do so in a sustainable manner.

The ELIXIR Hub is located alongside the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), a world-leading centre for computational biology and long-time champion of open data in the life sciences. ELIXIR is linking centres of excellence throughout the UK and Europe, and once the ECA is in force these partnerships will be formalised. The UK's involvement in ELIXIR is supported by BBSRC, MRC and NERC.

ENDS