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European Virtual Institute for Genome Annotation receives 12 million euro funding from the European Commission

The European Commission (EC) has awarded 12 million euro to 24 bioinformatics groups in 14 countries to form a pan-European “BioSapiens Network of Excellence in Bioinformatics”; one of the groups is the Research Group on Genome Bioinformatics from the Research Unit on Biomedical Informatics (GRIB) coordinated by Roderic Guig√≥. "Europe has excellent bioinformatics environments in many countries, but in order to maximize the overall impact it needs to strengthen and reinforce that excellence by restructuring and coordinating existing research capacities and the way research is carried out," explains Janet Thornton, Director of the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) and coordinator of the BioSapiens project. The network will also create a virtual institute for research on genome annotation, the process in which information from gene and protein databases is extracted, analyzed, and interpreted; and will set up an European school for training in bioinformatics. How will this virtual institute work? It will be divided into nodes, each focused on one aspect of genome annotation. The annotations generated will be integrated, using an Open Source system called DAS (Distributed Annotation System), and made freely accessible to all through a single portal on the web, and will be used as a means of guiding future experimental work. “However – professor Thornton explains - whilst BioSapiens is primarily a basic research network, it will indirectly benefit the exploitation of biological information to address important social objectives, including improved health-care, better drugs, new vaccines, personalized medicine, and improved understanding of diet and health. By understanding how the normal human organism functions and develops we can improve diet, behavior and environment to optimize quality of life". BioSapiens will also help to maintain Europe´s strong global position in bioinformatics, allowing Europe to compete with the major investments made in this area in the USA, Canada and Japan.

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