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The LCSB Bioinformatics Core is using its skills in data management and algorithm development to help experimental, theoretical-computational and medical-oriented research groups take full advantage of the data they produce. The team’s project portfolio includes two European projects, eTRIKS and AETIONOMY, which receive funding from the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), the world’s biggest public-private partnership in the field of life sciences. A third project, FAIRPlus, is soon to be launched. Participation in these European projects has played an important role in enhancing the LCSB’s international reputation in the field of translational medicine research.

Professor Dr Reinhard Schneider, Head of the Bioinformatics Core and of the ELIXIR-LU Node, will be one of the speakers at the international conference and networking event that will take place in Luxembourg on 14 December 2018 to celebrate the first 10 years of IMI funding for medical breakthrough. Before speaking at the event, he reflects on his team’s various participations in IMI projects.

What is the LCSB’s contribution to the different projects?

The LCSB’s participation in eTRIKS laid the foundation for the team’s further involvement and important role in several IMI projects in data curation, integration and visual analytics.
eTRIKS stands for “European Translational Information and Knowledge Management Services”. It aimed at addressing the knowledge management needs of other IMI projects. We developed dynamic visual-analytic tools for the project’s data integration platform, which have been used in more than 40 IMI projects, and provided a long-term data hosting solution via ELIXIR-LU for eTRIKS and other IMI projects.

At present, the LCSB Bioinformatics Core is involved in the development of a knowledge base for the AETIONOMY project that facilitates data management, analysis and mapping. This includes a clinical data repository platform that will support the goal of AETIONOMY: to pave the way towards a new approach to classifying neurodegenerative diseases (e.g. Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease) based on mechanistic hypotheses, for the improvement of drug development and therapy.

Finally, our team will be a partner in the soon to be launched FAIRPlus consortium. The project goal is to realise the FAIR principles, i.e. to make data Findable, Interoperable, Accessible and Reusable in practice, so as to sustain the valuable data generated in industrial, academic and mixed scientific partnerships within the fields covered by IMI. The Bioinformatics Core will develop guidelines and tools for the transformation of the IMI data produced in selected projects to FAIR data and provide sustainable hosting platforms. Another important part of our work will be to enhance and extend the “data catalogue” that we developed during eTRIKS to assist researchers in locating clinical and translational data sets of interest to them. Extending this work aligns with another important focus of our activity: data provenance and data (privacy) protection.

What kind of results did you achieve? How do they translate to Luxembourg?

In addition to the development of dynamic visual-analytic tools, the work for eTRIKS was a seed for the data hosting set-up for translational medicine data that is offered by ELIXIR-LU. Moreover, a start-up called ITTM (Information Technology for Translational Medicine, S.A.) span off from the LCSB during the project period, in order to satisfy a growing demand from both pharmaceutical and biotech companies, public research institutions and private foundations in the field of translational medical research. Through AETIONOMY, new valuable datasets are being sustainably hosted in Luxembourg, and the scope of ELIXIR-LU’s role as a data hub was extended to include clinical and socio-economic data. We view our participation in FAIRPlus as an opportunity to more firmly “plant the Luxembourg flag” into the FAIR data landscape that is rapidly gaining scientific and strategic importance.

What did the IMI participations bring to your organisation?

Our participation in the different IMI projects has allowed us to build up the very strong team and expertise related to data integration, dynamic visual analytics, data standardization and the specific needs connected with data sharing in translational medical research (e.g. carefully managed access control). Through our work for NCER-PD – the National Centre of Excellence in Research on Parkinson’s disease – we have established an international reputation in these fields, and this has already led to new opportunities and partnerships in other international (IMI and Horizon 2020) and national projects.

 

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