Today, life scientists can use a variety of advanced technologies, such as genomics, transcriptomics, proteomics, metabolomics, various types of bio-imaging, and sophisticated methods to measure phenotypes and lifestyle. These technologies offer unprecedented opportunities to unravel the complexity of life, but they also bring challenges:
- expensive instruments that can only be operated by trained professionals;
- complex data sets that call for specialised ICT resources and data expertise.
Furthermore, researchers often need to combine multiple technologies in one experiment to answer the most fascinating research questions (e.g., genomics and brain imaging). They could do this much more efficiently if access to technological expertise and infrastructure, and the process of data handling would be harmonised across the different technological disciplines.
At the same time, the life sciences in general are confronted with two other challenges:
- replication crisis: Only about 50% of life science research results can be reproduced. This is partly caused by flaws in experimental design, low quality measurements and poor documentation of research methodology.
- research data get lost: Research data are often not archived in a form that allows them to be found, accessed and reused by other researchers. This is inefficient because data usually has more value than the original project will use.
To address these challenges, we need high quality experimental design, excellent measurements and a royal treatment of data. This calls for collaboration, tuning and coordination, for which DTL offers a platform to stakeholders in the Netherlands. DTL aims to connect the existing research infrastructure, building a kind of nation-wide highway system for life science research that is well-connected to international infrastructure networks.