The purpose of ELIXIR is to construct and operate a sustainable infrastructure for biological information in Europe to support life science research and its translation to medicine and the environment, the bio-industries and society.
Due to new technologies such as next-generation DNA sequencing, data produced in biological experiments is doubling every few months, and this rate is increasing. In addition, new types of data are constantly emerging that need to be integrated meaningfully.
The collection, curation, storage, archiving, integration and deployment of biomolecular data is an immense challenge that cannot be handled by a single organisation or by one country alone, but requires international coordination.
European Strategy Forum on Research and Innovation (ESFRI)
In October 2006 ESFRI, a body set up by 33 countries at the initiative of the European Council, identified 35 pan-European research infrastructures that are of key importance for the development of science and innovation. Among them, ELIXIR is one of very few considered to be of global significance.
ELIXIR will provide the facilities necessary for Europe’s life science researchers to make the most of our rapidly growing store of information about living systems, which is the foundation on which our understanding of life is built.
In order to achieve its mission, ELIXIR will construct, operate and enhance a distributed research infrastructure in accordance with the requirements of the scientific community and under the direction of the ELIXIR Board. The ELIXIR Hub will be connected to ELIXIR Nodes to provide infrastructure for data, compute, tools and standards and training as well as support for the ESFRI biological and medical science infrastructures.
ELIXIR co-ordinates the BioMedBridges project, which is a key initiative to bring together the ESFRI Research Infrastructures in the Bio Medical Sciences field. Together, the project will develop the shared e-infrastructure - the technical bridges - to allow interoperability between data and services in the biological, medical, translational and clinical domains and thus strengthen biomedical resources in Europe.
ELIXIR Preparatory Phase
The preparatory phase was funded by the European Commission (Framework Programme 7, Capacities) and was carried out by representatives of 32 organisations, including EMBL-EBI, originating in 13 countries. More information is available on the preparatory phase website. This website provides information on the EU-funded preparatory phase, including the documents and reports prepared by partners in the early stages of ELIXIR.
An extensive consultation process looked closely at:
- the needs of those who use bioinformatics resources
- the legal and organisational model
- the most suitable funding strategy for this pan-European research infrastructure.
Recommendations from user communities were of vital importance in shaping the future of ELIXIR, because the ultimate indicator for ELIXIR's success will be its acceptance and use by researchers in academia and industry.
ELIXIR's preparatory phase was managed by a Steering Committee comprising many of Europe's most well respected and influential bioinformaticians, users of biological data and policy specialists.