ELIXIR/DTL hackathon on FAIR Profiles & Data

From March 31st to April 2nd, DTL and Elixir organised a hackathon in Hinxton, UK, at the Elixir facilities. The hackathon had two parts, one dedicated to work on the development of FAIR Profiles and the other to discuss the commonalities between FAIR Data and Beacons.

FAIR Profiles is a technology developed by the tech team of the FAIR Data Initiative that supports the description of datasets and data repositories, independently of their underlying implementation technology. For instance, a FAIR Profile can describe a dataset represented as a CSV file as well as represented using XML, RDF or relational database technologies. The FAIR Profiles technology covers the four letters of FAIR, making sure to describe the dataset in a way that supports findability, accessibility, interoperability and reusability.

During the Hinxton hackathon the findability part of the FAIR Profiles was refined and the accessibility, interoperability and reusability parts were defined. Next steps are to write the technology’s specs, and to test and evaluate the FAIR Profiles by describing relevant datasets and data repositories.

The Beacon project, from the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health, (GA4GH) has the objective of testing “the willingness of international sites to share genetic data in the simplest of all technical contexts”. A beacon is a public Web service that accepts a query such as “Do you have any genomes with an ‘A’ at position 100735 on chromosome 3?” and responds simply “Yes” or “No”. Besides the technical simplicity, this design prevents any privacy violation. During the Beacon session in the hackathon, the FAIR Data tech and the GA4GH teams discussed how FAIR Data and the Beacons project could be aligned.

The preliminary conclusion was that FAIR Data could contribute in the step beyond the “Yes/No” answer, when the requester gets the information that the beacon has the requested genetic information and, if authorised, more detailed information could be accessed. In this phase, FAIR Data could support the interoperability of the requested genetic data provided by the beacon’s database, by integrating the genetic data with other data. In the hackathon the participants agreed on exploring the options for focused and structural collaboration between individuals and teams in ELIXIR, CORBEL, GA4GH and other related infrastructural projects.


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