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Coordinated Research Infrastructures Building Enduring Life-science services

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - CORBEL (Coordinated Research Infrastructures Building Enduring Life-science services)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2018-09-30

The goal of CORBEL is to allow our users in the scientific community to easily access a range of advanced facilities and services from different ESFRI Biological and Medical Research Infrastructures (BMS RI) in their research projects. We achieve this by establishing a framework for connecting services and supporting users across between the BMS RIs. Specifically, CORBEL delivers this by achieving three main objectives:

Objective 1: Forge effective partnerships with user communities across RI by providing joined-up service catalogues, simplifying user access and providing of user engagement forums for feedback and future service developments.
Objective 2: Develop scalable solutions that meet user needs for complex scientific workflows by developing and operating cross-RI scientific connectors that integrate our joint capabilities into service packages for advanced users.
Objective 3: Implement a portfolio of shared services that facilitate user access to data, samples and instrumentation through common access policies and a shared resource portal, and data management solutions that enable users to manage data across infrastructure boundaries.

The work plan is based on 9 work packages: 4 “building” work packages delivering the shared service platform (WP5 Enabling common solutions for user access; WP6 Data access, management and integration; WP7 Common services to provide support with Ethical, Legal and Societal Issues; WP8 Accelerating innovation), 3 supporting work packages (WP1 Project management and coordination; WP2 Documentation, communication and outreach; WP9 Training), and 2 central “driving” work packages (WP3 Community-driven cross-infrastructure joint research–Medical; WP4 Community-driven cross-infrastructure joint research–Bioscience).

CORBEL is coordinated by Dr. Niklas Blomberg (ELIXIR director) and managed by Dr. Friederike Schmidt-Tremmel (ELIXIR). Mr. Erik Steinfelder (BBMRI-ERIC director) acts as project co-coordinator, overseeing ethical and personal data integrity issues within the consortium. The Executive Board consists of the directors of the 13 BMS RIs.
CORBEL is now operating the second of its 3 phases:
● Months 1-12: Coordination and preparation: extensive mapping efforts, establishment of user and stakeholder forums and technology road mapping and gap analysis activities
● Months 13-37: Implementation: Execution of user-led research efforts and development of shared service platform
● Months 38-57: Assessment and validation: testing and validation of shared service platform against user requirements and embedding of services within the established research infrastructures, providing the foundation for sustainable services

During the first 37 months, the partners achieved 42 milestones and reported 27 out of 29 deliverables on time. The 2 outstanding deliverables are delayed by 1 and 3 months.
The development of RI interconnectedness in the CORBEL project is user-driven. In the first 37 months the work towards Objective 1 have delivered launched two open calls for user services and launched 31 user service projects based on external review of 50 user applications. In addition the Medical Infrastructure Users Forum has brought together EU projects, ERA-NETS, JPIs and other stakeholders to discuss and shape service offerings for transnational health projects.
The development of scalable and harmonised solutions cross-RI (Objective 2) have delivered a shared quality management strategy, harmonised user access and project review via the ARIA system and a joint strategy for managing federated user identities for single-sign on access to computational services
CORBEL has also facilitated user access and service use (Objective 3) by delivering a continuously updated shared resource portal and together with NIH Data Commons established simple guidance on data management solutions. These recommendations are now being embedded in user projects and contributed to an “interoperability knowledge hub” that enable users to manage data across domain boundaries. Our recommendations are used by third parties, e.g. ERC data management guidelines.
Good infrastructure service is ultimately dependent on committed and highly trained operators. CORBEL is also addressing the significant challenge of identifying, attracting and training staff. In the first 37 months the project has developed a common competency framework for RI operators, with a particular focus on distributed research infrastructures and mapped the available training courses and e-learning resources in on-course to this framework. CORBEL has also provided a staff-exchange programme and a service focussed training programme.
CORBEL is designed around the concept of an innovation pipeline that translates basic biological discoveries into health innovation, and which recognises that the long-term impact of BMS RIs requires both overall coordination of services as well as tight partnership with specific user communities and stakeholders. On project completion, in 2020, CORBEL will have established :
1. Harmonised access policies, procedures, and portals for BMS RI service access
2. Common ELSI support and evaluation for BMS RI services
3. Shared Innovation support and industry partnership to leverage the RI innovation potential
4. Joint data management, exchange and integration practices between the BMS RI

With a combined public and private research investment of 60 billion Euro annually the biomedical sector is a key component of the European knowledge economy with significant innovation potential. The European Commission estimates that there are 500,000 active life science researchers in Europe alone. Hence, user demand for the services of CORBEL partners from within Europe is large and is a prerequisite for the complex, multidisciplinary research being carried out by Europe’s science base.

The development of pan-European standards, services and training programmes supports the integration of national capabilities and gives strong confidence in the synergy and sustainability of investments. Research infrastructures are the bedrock for this integration.
CORBEL will support one of the fundamental cornerstones of the European Research Area: the provision of world-class infrastructures to enable science. Leveraging the technologies, expertise and solutions embedded within individual RIs, CORBEL’s shared services demonstrate a real EU-added value and simplify access for small laboratories and enable scaling services for pan-European projects through large consortia and industry.
For instance, CORBEL will transform the medical area by defining a framework for opening access and reuse of clinical trial data. Likewise, the development of pipelines and data services for ‘omics technologies will not only bring in relevant models for biological mechanisms but promises an avenue to significantly reduce experiments on mammalian species.

Through innovation support CORBEL will also ensure that each RI is better equipped to exploit and support the value creation from technology platforms.

CORBEL partners provide services accessed by users worldwide, ensuring global dissemination of project’s results.
CORBEL: Access to multiple Research Infrastructures