The Commission of the European Union has awarded 12,000,000 Euro to 24 bioinformatics groups based in 14 countries throughout Europe to create a pan-European BioSapiens Network of Excellence in Bioinformatics. The network aims to address the current fragmentation of European bioinformatics by creating a virtual research institute and by organizing a European school for training in bioinformatics.
Data overload is reaching epidemic proportions among molecular biologists. As genome-sequencing efforts continue apace and are being supplemented by new types of information from microarray, proteomics and structural genomics projects, biologists are literally drowning in a sea of data. Bioinformatics - the science of storing, retrieving and analysing large amounts of biological information - is struggling to keep up and is also contributing to the information overload by generating large numbers of predictions about the biochemical functions of gene products. These predictions need to be tested in the lab, but the infrastructure to “complete the circle” between computational biologists and experimentalists needs to be improved. This will have to change if we are to fulfil the ultimate promise of genomics: better quality of life.
“Europe has excellent bioinformatics environments in many countries, but in order to maximize the overall impact it needs to strengthen and reinforce that excellence by restructuring and coordinating existing research capacities and the way research is carried out,” explains Janet Thornton, Director of the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) and coordinator of the BioSapiens project. To help realize the goal of a single European research area, which aims to make the best use of Europes research resources, the Commission of the European Union has devised some new instruments as part of its sixth Framework Programme (FP6), the EUs main means of funding research in Europe. One of these instruments, the “Network of Excellence” (NoE), is designed to tackle the fragmentation of European research by creating durable structures for future research in certain priority areas, including life sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health.
Trista Dawson | EMBL
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