U.K. injecting £75M into bioinformatics 'nerve center' for Europe

Amid efforts to gain control of an overwhelming surge in life sciences data, the U.K. government is spending £75 million on what is being called a "nerve centre" of a Europe-wide effort to maintain and share the data among researchers. The sizable investment bankrolls the construction of a central hub of the European Life-science Infrastructure for Biological Information (ELIXIR) in Cambridge.

The European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) revealed the investment amount on Monday, after the U.K. government committed funding for the project early this year without specifying the sum, GenomeWeb reported. Plans call for construction of the bioinformatics hub at the institute, which is located on the Wellcome Trust Genome campus in Hinxton, Cambridge, according to EBI, which is a unit of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). It's expected to house a significant computer infrastructure "that can handle the rising tide of life science data," the group said in its release.

The investment comes amid plenty of grumbling in the scientific community about the need for resources to maintain skyrocketing amounts of data from such sources as DNA sequencing. And the IT infrastructure to accomplish this has been noted as key to enabling scientists to delve deeply into the data and uncover potential breakthroughs in medicine and other fields. ELIXIR, which is backed in part by the EU's Seventh Framework Program, has been one of Europe's remedies for the data bottlenecks that could stymie practical use of the growing amount of scientific information.

"The rapid advent of new science and technologies means that pharmaceutical research and development is increasingly complex, multi-disciplinary and interdependent. R&D therefore relies on effective coordination and curation of life science data," Louise Leong, head of R&D at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, stated. "Without good access to such data, time and resources are wasted duplicating effort, which could be spent creating innovative new medicines."

- here's the release
- see GenomeWeb's article