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A European model for bioinformatics research and community education

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A universal and integrative bioinformatics platform

The integration of available biological knowledge is an essential requirement for the field of systems biology. European scientists established an integrative and comprehensive network to functionally link all the available bioinformatics resources.


Modern biology requires the integration of heterogeneous data from a plethora of diverse sources, including high-throughput omics and classical targeted biochemistry and molecular biology. The integration of these data in an effective manner will lead to a systems biology point of cellular view. Despite the rapid development of bioinformatics that facilitate the processing, validation and integration of data, there is still a common and integrative way missing for the organisation of available knowledge. The EU-funded project ‘A European model for bioinformatic research and community education’ (Embrace) was initiated with the primary scope of linking and integrating in a network available European groups working on informatics as related to biomolecular sciences. Biological scientists in both academic and commercial areas were connected within Embrace to integrate, optimise and share informatics tools and resources from their fields. The previously isolated European groups and resources established an intensive cooperation to collect, curate and organise a wide range of biomolecular information. A variety of tools and databases available from the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) were exploited and applied in order to integrate this heterogeneous information. A common interface with defined standards was created and validated for the submission and integration of the dispersed and diverse information. This submission platform is available to the European public. Embrace scientists tracked and exploited the advances in informatics and they developed novel tools and programming interfaces in bioinformatics. In addition, groups interested in bioinformatics inside and outside Embrace were able to attend training courses in the development and application of various relevant tools. The project managed to establish a basic infrastructure for the common and comprehensive integration of biological data and resources. The new EDAM (EMBRACE Data and Methods) ontology used as the annotation standard is also publicly available at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) of the EBI (EMBL-EBI).

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