European Bioinformatics Institute to tackle life threatening diseases

European bioinformatics institute to tackle life threatening diseases

Following a £45 million (~€52.7 million) investment, the European Bioinformatics Institute is one step closer to improving the world’s understanding of genetics and molecular biology.

Drug discovery, research into cancer genetics, regenerative medicine and crop disease prevention will be strengthened following £45 million government investment to extend the largest biological open data facility hosted in the UK. Life scientists across the globe use EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute’s (EMBL-EBI) infrastructure in Cambridge to store, share, access and analyse data to drive cutting-edge research in genomics and molecular biology.

This government investment will increase the centre’s computing, storage and building capacity as it works to improve the world’s understanding of genetics and molecular biology.

Improving diagnosis of disease and inform new life-saving treatments

Through collaborations, the Institute is integral to fighting human diseases, and has supported numerous initiatives including:

  • The Human Cell Atlas which is the world’s first data platform that maps every single cell in the human body. By doing so, it allows scientists to identify which genes associated with disease are active in our bodies and where
  • UK Biobank which is a collection of health data from over 500,000 volunteers in the country, set to offer new insights to disease prevention and treatment.

European Bioinformatics to turn complex data into digestible knowledge

UKRI Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport, said: “Our ability to process, access and interrogate large volumes of data is absolutely crucial to scientific discovery in the 21st Century, none more so than in health and life sciences where the fields of genomics and molecular biology are fuelling major advances.

“This funding enables EMBL-EBI to continue to grow its global leadership in large biological datasets and bioinformatics, which are used by researchers all over the world, every day of the week.”

This investment will expand EMBL-EBI’s technical IT and building infrastructure which will support the growing demand for scientists to access biological data sets more quickly and simply than has previously been the case. It will also support the emerging use of machine learning across the life sciences, which requires quality-controlled datasets that EMBL-EBI.

Dr Ewan Birney, Director of EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute, said: “EMBL-EBI websites receive over 38 million requests for data or analysis every day. The demand for our data resources has risen dramatically in the last decade and we expect this trend to continue, so we need to be ready for when it happens. Building a robust and accessible data infrastructure is crucial for the life science discoveries of the next decades.”

Ensuring the UK remains globally competitive in the world of life sciences

Science Minister Chris Skidmore said: “People around the world are affected by food security, diseases that could be prevented and access to effective medication. Through the vital datasets made available by EMBL-EBI many of these issues can – and are – being prevented.

“That is why the government has invested £45 million to boost the work being undertaken at the Institute, and why boosting the UK’s genomics sector is a key commitment in our Life Sciences Sector Deal, to avoid premature deaths and to ensure food security for years to come.”

The new funding is delivered through UK Research and Innovation’s (UKRI) Strategic Priorities Fund which supports high quality research and development priorities.

UK science and innovation is supported by the largest increase in public research and development investment on record by committing to raising R&D funding to 2.4% of GDP by 2027.

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