The Netherlands Bioinformatics and Systems Biology Research School (BioSB) and DTL will intensify their collaboration from 2018 onwards. Dr Patrick Kemmeren of the BioSB Board: “There is substantial overlap between the stakeholders that are active in BioSB and DTL, yet the organisations have complementary scopes and activities. We have always collaborated, but we have now launched a formal partnership to coordinate our activities.”
The BioSB board currently consists of Jaap Heringa (chair, VU), Barbara Bakker (UMCG), Lodewyk Wessels (NKI), and Patrick Kemmeren (Princess Máxima Center). Heringa explains: “From the start, the activities of BioSB and DTL have overlapped and many people have been involved in both organisations. Now, the time is ripe to cash in on the synergy of each other’s expertise and facilities.”
BioSB and DTL are historically connected because they both originate from organisations that were funded by the Netherlands Genomics Initiative (2003-2013). DTL was launched in 2013 by amongst others the Netherlands Bioinformatics Centre (NBIC), Netherlands Consortium for Systems Biology (NCSB), Netherlands Proteomics Centre, and Netherlands Metabolomics Centre with the aim to build on the results obtained, technologies developed, and facilities set up in the period 2003–2013. BioSB was founded in 2014 to safeguard the education activities and research community in bioinformatics (NBIC) and systems biology (NCSB). (Read this review paper if you wish to know more about these historical developments.)
Today, BioSB and DTL each have their own unique profile. DTL acts as a network of professionals that jointly improve the Dutch life science research infrastructure, with a focus on FAIR data treatment, accessible high-end technologies, and expert training. It also acts as the Dutch node in the European ELIXIR network. In the DTL Learning programme, DTL-associated professionals jointly identify life science data-related training needs and they develop new courses. Bioinformatics & systems biology is one of the themes of the DTL Learning programme. These efforts are aligned with the European endeavour of ELIXIR Training. Kemmeren: “Here, DTL Learning closely collaborates with us because BioSB focuses on knowledge exchange and training in bioinformatics and systems biology in the Netherlands. We organise a yearly BioSB conference and we manage the BioSB course portfolio.”
“The new partnership will help us to better coordinate the activities of BioSB and DTL/ELIXIR-NL. Most importantly, we want to strengthen the course portfolio by updating existing courses and developing new courses in close collaboration with DTL Learning. For instance, we would like to add new courses in the fields of data science, research data management, and machine learning, thus creating a strong and timely training and education programme,” says Kemmeren.
Along with the new partnership, BioSB has installed measures to ensure the sustainability of the organisation Wessels: “The new partnership is mutually beneficial, where DTL provides support and expertise on infrastructural, administrative, and financial matters, and BioSB provides a strong scientific and educational community. In addition, we have decided to change the BioSB membership model. The membership fee will substantially decrease and we will adopt a ‘pay for use’ model, where members pay for the courses and the conferences they attend. The conference will become slightly more expensive, but the membership fee will be waved for attendants. It is our intention that the courses and the conference will become self-sustaining. For DTL partners that are currently not BioSB members, it will become easier and less expensive to subscribe to BioSB courses.”
Bakker: “After some debate about the pros and cons of the model, we are happy to say that the participants of the BioSB Members Assembly in November 2017 unanimously voted in favour of the proposed model. The BioSB Board is convinced that the partnership will allow us to create a strong and appealing course and conference programme together with DTL. We are happy to sense a lot of positive energy and drive by those involved.”