Successful 5th BioSB conference on Bioinformatics and Systems Biology

The BioSB research school offers a vibrant environment for the scientific education in integrative bioinformatics and systems biology. As these are core themes of DTL‘s ‘Learning Program’, DTL is actively involved in the BioSB research community. Together with multiple academic partners DTL further co-creates BioSB’s course portfolio and together with ELIXIR-NL, DTL (managed by Femke Francissen) also organizes BioSB’s yearly conferences.

At this year’s BioSB 2019 conference 380 participants presented the latest developments in bioinformatics, systems and computational biology. A separate track was organized around ELIXR-NL’s core topics including ‘Working with data resources’, ‘Tools & resources’, ‘Education’, as well as an interactive breakout session on ‘Practical FAIR research data management.’

This year, DTL/ELIXIR-NL presented topics such as the Data Stewardship Wizard, which turns lengthy data management questionnaires into an effective flowchart (find the poster here), a list of Top 10 things that one can do to improve the FAIRness of research software (more info) and coordinated efforts to build local capacity for training in computing and data skills in the NL (find the poster here). What’s more, resources and projects in FAIR data training and capacity building were highlighted (find the poster and presentation here), as well as co-creating the definition of a professional Data Steward and determining the educational needs for this profession (funded by ZonMW) (find the poster here). Topics, such as ‘On the Road to Research Software Sustainability’ (collaboration of ELIXIR Software Development Best Practices Group and the Carpentries; find the presentation & 4OSS recommendations & more info here) and the launch of a 3-day course around FAIR data handling in Life Sciences directed at wet-lab scientists, as part of the Helis Academy (find the poster here), received great attention.

So how can FAIR research data management be applied effectively to facilitate research and not leading to “an extra layer of administrative burden for a researcher”? Douwe Molenaar (Investigator, Systems Bioinformatics, AIMMS, VU University Amsterdam) and Brett Olivier (Data Steward, AIMMS, VU University Amsterdam) shared their experience with YODA, a data management tool developed by the University of Utrecht, which is based on the data management framework iRODS. The VU used YODA to manage the data workflow in the lab by automatically annotating and storing data, in this case from a flow cytometer, a common technique to characterize cells. These concrete examples from the breakout session on ‘Practical FAIR research data management’ clarify how tools are able to assist researchers. In the session, DTL explained how ELIXIR-NL and DTL aim to advance good data management tools & strategies through applying FAIR principles, and how the Data Stewardship Wizard can be used in the planning phase to find such tools and strategies that are applicable to a research project.

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