Working towards an Australian Bioinformatics Commons

This week project convenor and Director, Melbourne Bioinformatics and EMBL-ABR, updated the EMBL-ABR International Scientific Advisory Group, as consultants to this project, on progress to date. A summary follows:

1. Phase 3a of the Australian Biosciences Data Capability project (now the Australian Bioinformatics Commons) was an extremely useful use-case activity to determine the technical and implementation details for a national bioinformatics infrastructure investment. It confirmed that there are a number of bioinformatics services that would provide genuine value across the national researcher community; additionally, a national training program in concert with national infrastructure resources and closely aligned with international programs would provide broad benefit. The full report is available here.

2. Earlier this year a very significant multi-year NCRIS investment in both Bioplatforms Australia (BPA) (~$110m over 5 years) and the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) (~$200m over 5 years) was announced. These investments are so significant that both bodies are now each undertaking strategic review processes, intended to drive multi-year infrastructure programs starting July 2019 in both cases.

3. As part of BPA’s strategic review, and funded and endorsed by BPA, this project will now build on this national consultation and planning work done to date to propose a detailed infrastructure and expertise investment strategy. It is expected that the proposal will be comprehensive and contain alternative models for how such infrastructure might be funded, delivered and managed. It will be very important that this project continues to consult closely with the ARDC during this planning period to make sure ambitions align.

Each member of the national Reference Group will now be contacted once more, to help work towards the next phase of this activity, and to assemble some smaller community-aligned groups from the Reference Group to explore specific objectives and plans.