ELIXIR-NL receives funding to coordinate data approaches of Dutch life science facilities

NWO has announced that ELIXIR-NL will receive funding to coordinate the data approaches of life science facilities in the National Roadmap for Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructure.

Professor Jaap Heringa (Image credit: Bas van Breukelen)

Professor Jaap Heringa, Head of the Dutch ELIXIR node, explains: “In 2016, the Permanent Committee marked ELIXIR-NL as one of the strategic life science infrastructures on the National Roadmap, acknowledging our coordinating role across the life sciences. Dutch life scientists need an excellent national digital infrastructure to work at the international forefront of data-intensive life science research. A number of other Roadmap clusters (BBMRI-NL, MRI/Cognition, ISBE) also prioritised ELIXIR-NL for Roadmap funding because it forms the heart of the national Health-RI initiative. Unfortunately, ELIXIR-NL has not been selected for full-fledged Roadmap funding, but we are happy that the Roadmap Committee now does help to secure the coordinating role of ELIXIR-NL via a subsidy of 500 k€ from their Roadmap Bridge Fund.”

Action plan
Heringa continues: “Within the framework of our Bridge Fund proposal, we requested funding for a senior coordinating team that can help align projects and capacities among the partners. Aim is to build a network of academic institutes and companies. We expect this will be successful as we will make active use of the partnership model and governance structure of DTL. This structure makes it possible to easily involve academic partners as well as commercial solution providers, which will positively influence sustainability and reliability of solutions. We will focus on coordinating the data approaches of the life science initiatives on the Roadmap, covering the full width of the life sciences. For instance, we will assist in the planning and implementation of FAIR data management by connecting local data stewards in partner institutes and data stewards of other Roadmap infrastructure clusters. Assisting other clusters in their data stewardship challenges is a role that the Roadmap Committee has asked ELIXIR-NL to play all along. By establishing the core of a network of interacting data experts, we will work towards harmonisation of the data approach across the field.”

Professor Andre Dekker

FAIR data
Professor Andre Dekker, co-lead of the ELIXIR-NL cluster from Maastricht University, adds: “Having a growing number of local FAIR data stations allows for next generation federated data analysis, where learning algorithms visit FAIR data stations without the need for aggregating these data. We have dubbed this the Personal Health Train (PHT) initiative to illustrate the power of this approach in the health domain. From the ELIXIR-NL team, we will coordinate the implementation of this approach, which has already led to the establishment of a national PHT coalition of public and private partners.”

Open Science
Heringa concludes: “While working with a small coordinating team, partly funded by NWO, we will prepare for a strategy to establish a broader FAIR-based data services infrastructure, connecting institutes and infrastructures. This will be a crucial step to enable the implementation of Open Science in the Netherlands.“

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