ELIXIR (the European life-sciences Infrastructure for biological Information) is an initiative that will allow life science laboratories across Europe to share and store their research data as part of an organised network. Its goal is to bring together Europe’s laboratories and data centres to help coordinate the collection, quality control and storage of large amounts of biological data produced by life science experiments. ELIXIR aims to ensure that biological data is integrated into a centralised system where by all facets of the scientific community can access existing research easily.

Mission

ELIXIR's mission is to build a sustainable European infrastructure for biological information, supporting life science research and its translation to medicine and the environment, the bio-industries and society.

The results from biological experiments produce vast amounts of results that are stored as data using computersoftware. It has been estimated that by 2020, biological data will be generated at up to one million times the current rate; handling and processing this large volume of data presents a challenge that needs to be addressed. European countries have invested heavily in research that produces, analyses and stores biological information. Notwithstanding the collection, storage, archiving and integration of these large amounts of data presents a problem that can't be tackled by one country alone. ELIXIR represents the joining of independent bioscience facilities to create an integrated network that addresses the complex problem of biological data storage and management. By providing a sustainable and distributed structure for handling data and data retrieval tools, ELIXIR hopes to secure Europe-wide investment in bioinformatics, providing the stability to conduct research in all areas of life science, both in academia and industry.

Organisation and structure

ELIXIR is an inter-governmental organisation which builds on existing resources, with a central coordinating Hub based alongside the European Molecular Biology Laboratory’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) on the Wellcome Trust Genome Campus in Hinxton, Cambridge, and ELIXIR Nodes housed in leading bioscience facilities throughout Europe.

Governments and ministries of countries are members of the ELIXIR consortium, and the scientific community in each member country develops their providing services to ELIXIR.

Participants

As of December 2014, 11 countries and EMBL-EBI have signed the in order to become a full member of ELIXIR: Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Israel, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

Countries that have signed the ECA are allocated representation on the ELIXIR Board.

A further 6 counties are Observers to the ELIXIR Board and are working towards ratifying the ECA in the near future: Belgium, France, Greece, Italy, Slovenia, Spain.

The preparatory phase of ELIXIR was coordinated by Professor Dame Janet Thornton of EMBL-EBI.

The Founding Director of ELIXIR, Dr Niklas Blomberg, took up his position in the new ELIXIR Hub in Cambridge in May 2013.

Countries and scientific delegates to the ELIXIR Board

  • EMBL - Prof Iain Mattaj and Prof Janet Thornton
  • Belgium - Dr François Guissart
  • Czech Republic - Prof Jaroslav Koča
  • Denmark - Prof Anders Krogh
  • Estonia - Prof Pärt Peterson
  • Finland - Dr Per Öster
  • France- Dr Eric Guittet and Dr Claudine Medigue
  • Germany - Prof Roland Eils, Prof Alexander Goesmann
  • Greece - TBC
  • Italy - Prof Anna Tramontano
  • Ireland - Dr Marion Boland and Dr Dara Dunican
  • Israel - Dr Yossi Kalifa
  • Luxembourg - TBC
  • Netherlands - Dr Ruben Kok
  • Norway - Prof Rein Aasland and Prof Stig Omholt
  • Portugal - Prof Ana Teresa Freitas
  • Slovenia - Prof Damjana Rozman
  • Sweden - Prof Ulf Gyllensten
  • Spain - Prof Ferran Sanz
  • Switzerland - Prof Torsten Schwede
  • United Kingdom - Dr Chris Rawlings

Funding

By the end of 2012 ELIXIR had completed its five-year preparatory phase funded by the EU’s Seventh Framework Programme as part of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI) process.

ELIXIR is now in its implementation phase, with leading institutions throughout Europe coming together to create a robust and sustainable organisation. Each member state jointly contributes towards the funding of the ELIXIR Hub in proportion to GDP. Some countries have allocated new funds to contribute towards their ELIXIR Node. The services and activities of the ELIXIR Nodes will continue to be funded by national agencies. Collectively, ELIXIR members will apply for additional external funding.