Brussels, 02 Feb 2005
Access to biological information is set to improve dramatically, following the creation of a Network of Excellence tasked with standardising the way in which such data is made available to scientists.
The EMBRACE Network of Excellence has been established with a grant of 8.3 million euro from the 'life sciences, genomics and biotechnology for health' priority of the EU's Sixth Framework Programme (FP6). The consortium is made up of computational biologists from 17 institutes in 11 countries, under the coordination of the European Bioinformatics Institute.
Nowadays, scientists rely on databases to store and retrieve the vast amounts of biological information that is constantly being generated. As a result, dedicated data providers expend a great deal of effort to provide database resources that are both user-friendly and cross-linked to other databases.
The problem, however, arises when different data providers use different methods for accessing their resources, resulting in researchers having to carry out the same search on a number of different databases in order to find all relevant information on a particular subject.
As a response, the EMBRACE initiative has been established in order to enable data providers to create searchable interfaces to their databases that will all conform to a common set of standards. By applying this method to Europe's largest and most widely used biomolecular databases, the consortium will effectively create a 'data grid', maximising the value of these vital resources.
'Many elegant and powerful computational biology tools are under-utilised,' says consortium member Erik Bongcam-Rudloff from Sweden's University of Uppsala. 'EMBRACE will allow us to unlock their potential by standardising access to them.'
As well as the creation of the data grid itself, the consortium has also created a 'technology watch' to ensure that the grid is not reliant on technology that will quickly become out of date.
Finally, the EMBRACE consortium members will aim to spread news of their work as widely as possible to ensure that scientists not only make use of the new technology, but also help to expand the data grid by 'grid enabling' their own data resources.
For further information, please contact:
EMBL-EBI Scientific Outreach Officer