Thursday, December 17, 2009

Workshop on ICT and e-infrastructure needs for European Research Infrastructures in Biological and Medical Sciences, 16 December 2009, Brussels

- Bob Jones, EGEE Project Director

This workshop brought together the life sciences-based European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructure (ESFRI) projects and representatives of the European e-infrastructures. It was jointly organised by the Directorate General for Research and the Directorate General for Information Society and Media of the European Commission (EC). The aim of the workshop was to create synergies, foster the adoption of existing solutions, reduce gaps and identify issues that call for either generic approaches, or user community specific solutions. The expected outcome of the workshop was a draft plan for common actions, helping to define future Research Infrastructure work programmes.

Life sciences projects ELIXIR and BBMRI gave an overview of the challenges facing them in the area of ICT. ELIXIR (European Life-science Infrastructure for Biological Information) will construct and operate a sustainable infrastructure for biological information in Europe to support life science research and its translation to medicine and the environment, the bio-industries and society. Data growth is identified as a key challenge for this community, especially in the field of sequencing data.

BBMRI, Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure will secure sustainable access to biological resources needed for health-related research and development, such as collections of blood, DNA and tissue together with lifestyle and environmental data from patients and healthy people. BBMRI will enable researchers to search across the more than 250 biobanks in Europe with a wide range of queries. For them, it is important that local autonomy is preserved and that security and privacy can be assigned as needed.

During discussions, ELIXIR and BBMRI identified a brief set of common needs:

- Means of linking disparate data repositories (data moving)
- Support for common meta-data (data sharing)
- Develop suitable security models (data accessing)

Overall, several key points for EGEE / EGI emerged during the event:

- The RTD and INFO directorates want to work together to offer joint support to the ESFRI projects during their construction phase and have set aside money to do this at the end of the 7th Framework Programme (2011-2013).

- The EC would like feedback from the ESFRI projects and e-infrastructures on the areas where they most need support by January 2010.

- The EC prefers to identify common needs across the ESFRI projects and to work with clusters of projects on common areas.

- The life science ESFRI projects acknowledge ELIXIR as being the core project that typifies many of their common e-infrastructures requirements.

- The life science community predicts that most future use cases will benefit more from capacity (i.e. grid) computing compared to capability (i.e. supercomputer) models.

- For their short to medium term needs, the community is most interested in access to on-demand grid services with integrated data management services, encompassing many data repositories across Europe.

- Support for international (i.e. beyond Europe) collaboration is essential.

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