Report on Australian visit of Dr Niklas Blomberg, Director, ELIXIR


ELIXIR is EMBL-EBI’s initiative for data infrastructure for life science information. Director, Dr Niklas Blomberg, toured Australia in late 2015 as a guest of VLSCI / EMBL Australia*, with funding support from Bioplatforms Australia.

As he learned about the Australian life sciences data infrastructure landscape, Dr Blomberg was asked what data integration and distribution strategies he thought would be needed to support our biotech, agri-bio, education and medical research sectors in the future.

Dr Blomberg’s report on the Australian scene is available here.

ELIXIR originated in the EU in response to the growing realisation that to continue to deliver better health, social and economic innovations, just as roads and highways had done in the 1950’s, data highways are needed for the 2020’s. Some will enable free access, some will require ‘tolls’. Public and private initiatives both must play their part. It will be expensive and complex and require collaboration at local, national and international levels. Not doing so is not an option, individuals and industry now expect to access publicly-funded research data and the benefits and products to flow from data being shared around the world by way of medical and biotech advances.

At the conclusion of his tour, Dr Blomberg reported:

…those institutes I visited are well placed to serve the bioinformatics needs of local users. Furthermore, there exist many parallels with European data infrastructure efforts that could be leveraged for mutual benefit. Closer collaboration with ELIXIR should be encouraged with the long-term goal of membership in ELIXIR by Australia the most effective way of achieving this global cooperation.

*Dr Blomberg was hosted by Assoc Prof Andrew Lonie, Director, Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI) and the EMBL Australia Bioinformatics Resource. The tour included meetings in Brisbane, Melbourne, Sydney and Canberra. In Canberra the meeting also welcomed Dr Vivien Bonazzi, an Australian now working for the NIH-funded Big Data to Knowledge initiative in the USA. Earlier this week she was quoted on Nextgov on the roles for all in creating a data ‘Commons’.