The Commission of the European Union has awarded €9 million over five years for a new Network of Excellence that will make computational systems biology accessible to bench scientists throughout Europe and beyond. ENFIN, which stands for “Experimental Network for Functional INtegration,” brings together some of Europe’s best computational and experimental biology labs – 20 groups across 17 institutions in 13 countries – to build a virtual institute that will put Europe at the centre of the systems biology revolution.
Genome sequencing and other high-throughput technologies have triggered a renaissance in computational biology: there’s now a large, open-access database for almost every type of biological information. Yet the average biologist at the lab bench uses only a tiny proportion of the information that is relevant to the questions s/he is trying to answer. Why is this?
“To the bench scientist, computational biology is like driving around an unfamiliar city: you might be able to see your hotel, but finding your way to the car park through the one-way system can be a nightmare,” explains the EMBL–European Bioinformatics Institute’s Ewan Birney, who will coordinate ENFIN. “ENFIN will revise the town plan so that frustrating one-way system no longer exists: researchers will be able to go straight to the public data that they want, combine it with their own unpublished data and perform truly integrated analyses using data from different types of experiments.”
Sarah Sherwood | alfa
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The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.
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Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.
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The quantum world is fragile; error correction codes are needed to protect the information stored in a quantum object from the deteriorating effects of noise. Quantum physicists in Innsbruck have developed a protocol to pass quantum information between differently encoded building blocks of a future quantum computer, such as processors and memories. Scientists may use this protocol in the future to build a data bus for quantum computers. The researchers have published their work in the journal Nature Communications.
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