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no longer exists: researchers will be able to go straight to the public data that they want, combine it with their own unpublished data and perform truly integrated analyses using data from different types of experiments.”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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