Sciences such as biology and biomedicine are generating gigantic amounts of research data from the analysis of genomes and gene products. Often, however, these data are only kept in one place, making comparisons between different studies difficult and the legalities regarding their use unclear. ELIXIR – the "European life-sciences Infrastructure for biological Information" is looking to fix this unfortunate state of affairs.
Now Luxembourg becomes member of this transnational network: ELIXIR Luxembourg. In ELIXIR, 18 European countries are providing the ICT infrastructure for making data from biological and medical studies permanently accessible, to enhance their analysis and to support scientists´ research. With ELIXIR, Luxembourg aims to connect the national digitalisation strategy with the fast growing sector of biomedicine.
Handling large sets of scientific data
"Today the problem is that the wealth of knowledge hidden within biomedical data often cannot be extracted," says Dr. Reinhard Schneider, head of the Bioinformatics Core Facility at the LCSB and Principal Investigator within ELIXIR: "This knowledge could otherwise lead to new diagnostic methods, better therapies or even undiscovered preventive measures." This is the reason why Luxembourg applied for membership of ELIXIR in the spring of 2016, which was now accepted: On behalf of the Grand Duchy, the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg together with its partners will form a node in the ELIXIR European infrastructure.
"As an ELIXIR node for translational biomedicine we will serve both the national and the European research community," says Dr. Regina Becker, who is responsible for developing the research strategy at the LCSB and was in charge of drafting the Luxembourg application for ELIXIR membership: "The central national platform created through ELIXIR will increase national and international collaborations. We will host data from our own research as well as from our partners in Luxembourg and from other European institutions and consortia. Additionally, LCSB and its partners will develop innovative methods of bioinformatics to analyse such immense amounts of biomedical data and will take the legal aspects into account. This will place Luxembourg on the map as a biomedicine IT and data hub for Europe."
Fostering the biomedicine of tomorrow
ELIXIR addresses the fundamental issues systems biomedicine will be facing in future regarding the use of biomedical data. "In order to deliver the most societal and economic impact from publically funded research, it is necessary to build a stable, coordinated public data infrastructure across Europe that can store, analyse and make those data available to other users," says LCSB Director Prof. Rudi Balling: "Establishing the associated infrastructure here within ELIXIR is a great opportunity for the LCSB and the whole of biomedical research in Luxembourg. It means we can keep sight of current and future developments in research and can even actively participate in shaping them."
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