ELIXIR – distributed infrastructure for biological data
All living things are made of the same stuff so what is interesting with biology is that you can compare these molecules across different parts of life but to do this you need to have the reference data in order Bionformatics is bringing together biology and computers biology has really been revolutionized because it’s become much much cheaper to gather data That sounds wonderful until you realize that in bioinformatics we have consistently doubled our data every 12 months so under Moore’s Law. Sequencing technology has advanced we’re now facing the challenge of having a lot of data and how to manage that data. This is a problem that can’t be solved by a single hard drive in a single location. We need a technical structure and we have organized ourselves around five platforms We look at the data we look at the infrastructure needed to access and share the data tools needed to manage the data we look at the standards what we call interoperability, and we look at training. The way bioinformatics is going is more and more by integration if you don’t have a tool to solve the problem you have a combination of tools. One of the advantages of using the ELIXIR network is interoperability with other databases. We have to make knowledge from all this data and this is a challenge and this is where also training is very important ELIXIR brings together national bioinformatics centers into a single organization to make data findable make data accessible but most importantly to make it interoperable so it can be reused by other scientists across Europe. I am so excited about the way ELIXIR is constructed because it can naturally leverage the different pockets of expertise that are present across the entire continent ELIXIR has 20 member states we represent over a hundred sixty centers of excellence for bioinformatics The impact depends on use
so we know that millions of users every year are
downloading and accessing this data and in research laboratories that translates into new research findings in industry this translates into patents and that can be things like new biomarkers for disease but he could also be to define enzymes in a washing powder. The return on investment is always a
hard number to calculate but by the conservative estimates of our usage we get a 20-fold return on investment. So there are some big companies that make great use of our services there are also some very
small nimble companies, startups that are taking completely new business models. We are using a lot of the public databases both as a source for new enzyme sequences but also for organization and clustering of the existing data in order to find and select the best sequences. Internationalism is a key cornerstone and science and it’s just wonderful that Europe has come together in ELIXIR I think this is the way that we should work in the future.
Everyone is contributing and you make sure that everyone can use each other’s data. I find ELIXIR incredibly exciting I think it really opens up for a complete transformation of life science.