Public Release: 

UK-China collaboration for data sharing in metabolomics

The European Bioinformatics Institute, The Genome Analysis Centre, BGI and GigaScience receive funding from BBSRC for a UK-China consortium in metabolomics data sharing

GigaScience

A partnership between the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), the Universities of Birmingham, Manchester and Oxford, The Sainsbury Laboratory and TGAC with BGI and its open-access journal, GigaScience, has received funding from the UK's Biotechnology and Biological Research Council (BBSRC) to support the sharing of data and analyses in metabolomics.

Metabolomics involves the detection and quantification of small molecules (metabolites) in living organisms using mass spectrometers. The measurements made from these sophisticated instruments are analysed using computational programs to determine the abundances of metabolites, the results of which can provide an indication of an organism's cellular condition and health. These data can be stored and shared through public databases such as MetaboLights, which launched in 2012. However, data sharing is not yet keeping pace with the publication of scientific papers in metabolomics.

The award of £30,000 from the BBSRC will enable the consortium to host training workshops to support scientists in the UK and China in managing and sharing their metabolomics data and analyses. Such computational skills have been highlighted by the BBSRC as being essential for furthering the impact of science on society and the economy. The consortium will work with Software Carpentry, Data Carpentry, ELIXIR and the Galaxy Project: four international networks dedicated to building computational and bioinformatics skills capacity.

Dr Peter Li, Data Organisation Manager at GigaScience, commented, "This funding will enable a synergistic exchange of our experience in data curation and publication with the expertise in metabolomics teaching provided by our UK-based partners." He continued, "Bioinformatics education is of great interest to BGI as a channel of communicating how science can be performed in an open manner which we are promoting in GigaScience."

Dr Christoph Steinbeck of EMBL-EBI added, "There is already a lot of commitment in metabolomics research community to data sharing and reuse - our main challenge is simply in training people how best to incorporate this into their regular working practices. The BBSRC has recognised that this area of molecular biology is growing more quickly than any other, and that we need to do everything we can to train and support scientists in sharing data. That will lead to better quality data, more efficient research and shorter time to discovery."

Dr Vicky Schneider, Head of 361? Division (Scientific Training, Education & Learning) at TGAC, said: "In partnership with GigaScience and BGI, we aim to revive the sharing of metabolomics data in the UK and internationally. TGAC will play a pivotal role in facilitating the provision of informatics training for scientists to curate and share data in metabolomics to enhance its value in the global research community."

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The consortium is funded by the UK's BBSRC under its China Partnering Award programme.

Further information

EBI Communications Team
The European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI)
Wellcome Genome Campus
Hinxton, Cambridge
CB10 1SD, United Kingdom
Email: comms@ebi.ac.uk
BGI Public Communications Officer

Ms. Bicheng Yang
Tel: +86-755-82639701
Email: yangbicheng@genomics.cn

BBSRC Press Office
Biotechnology and Biological Research Council
Polaris House, North Star Avenue
Swindon, SN2 1UH, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 1793 414694 or email pressoffice@bbsrc.ac.uk

Notes to News Writers:

1. GigaScience is co-published by BGI, the world's largest genomics organization, and BioMed Central, the world's largest open-access publisher. The journal covers research that uses or produces 'big data' from the full spectrum of the life sciences. It also serves as a forum for discussing the difficulties of and unique needs for handling large-scale data from all areas of the life sciences. The journal has a completely novel publication format -- one that integrates manuscript publication with complete data hosting, and analyses tool incorporation. To encourage transparent reporting of scientific research as well as enable future access and analyses, it is a requirement of manuscript submission to GigaScience that all supporting data and source code be made available in the GigaScience database, GigaDB , as well as in their publicly available repositories. GigaScience will provide users access to associated online tools and workflows, and has integrated a data analysis platform, maximizing the potential utility and re-use of data. (Follow us on twitter @GigaScience; sina-weibo http://weibo.com/gigasciencejournal, and keep up-to-date on our blogs http://blogs.openaccesscentral.com/blogs/gigablog/feed/entries/rss).

2. BGI was founded in 1999 with the mission of being a premier scientific partner to the global research community. The goal of BGI is to make leading-edge genomic science highly accessible through its investment in infrastructure that leverages the best available technology, economies of scale, and expert bioinformatics resources. BGI, which includes both private non-profit genomic research institutes and sequencing application commercial units, and its affiliates, BGI Americas, headquartered in Cambridge, MA, and BGI Europe, headquartered in Copenhagen, Denmark, have established partnerships and collaborations with leading academic and government research institutions as well as global biotechnology and pharmaceutical companies, supporting a variety of disease, agricultural, environmental, and related applications. BGI has established a proven track record of excellence, delivering results with high efficiency and accuracy for innovative, high-profile research which has generated over 250 publications in top-tier journals such as Nature and Science. These accomplishments include sequencing one percent of the human genome for the International Human Genome Project, contributing 10 percent to the International Human HapMap Project, carrying out research to combat SARS and German deadly E. coli, playing a key role in the Sino-British Chicken Genome Project, and completing the sequence of the rice genome, the silkworm genome, the first Asian diploid genome, the potato genome, and, most recently, have sequenced the human Gut metagenome, and a significant proportion of the genomes for the 1,000 genomes project. For more information about BGI please visit http://www.genomics.cn and follow @BGI_Events

3. The European Bioinformatics Institute is part of EMBL, Europe's flagship laboratory for the life sciences. EMBL-EBI is a global leader in the storage, analysis and dissemination of large biological datasets, and helps scientists realise the potential of 'big data' by enhancing their ability to exploit complex information to make discoveries that benefit mankind. We are a non-profit, intergovernmental organisation funded by EMBL's 21 member states and two associate member states. Our 570 staff hail from 57 countries, and we welcome a regular stream of visiting scientists throughout the year. We are located on the Wellcome Genome Campus in Hinxton, Cambridge in the United Kingdom. http://www.ebi.ac.uk

4. The Sainsbury Laboratory (TSL) is a world-leading research centre focusing on making fundamental discoveries about plants and how they interact with microbes. TSL not only provides fundamental biological insights into plant-pathogen interactions, but is also delivering novel, genomics-based, solutions which will significantly reduce losses from major diseases of food crops, especially in developing countries. TSL is an independent charitable company and receives strategic funding from the Gatsby Charitable Foundation with the balance coming from competitive grants and contracts from a range of public and private bodies, including the European Union (EU), Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC) and commercial and charitable organisations. http://www.tsl.ac.uk

5. The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) is a world-class research institute focusing on the development of genomics and computational biology. TGAC is based within the Norwich Research Park and receives strategic funding from the Biotechnology and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC) - £7.4M in 2013/14 - as well as support from other research funders. TGAC is one of eight institutes that receive strategic funding from BBSRC. TGAC operates a National Capability to promote the application of genomics and bioinformatics to advance bioscience research and innovation. TGAC offers state of the art DNA sequencing facility, unique by its operation of multiple complementary technologies for data generation. The Institute is a UK hub for innovative Bioinformatics through research, analysis and interpretation of multiple, complex data sets. It hosts one of the largest computing hardware facilities dedicated to life science research in Europe. It is also actively involved in developing novel platforms to provide access to computational tools and processing capacity for multiple academic and industrial users and promoting applications of computational Bioscience. Additionally, the Institute offers a Training programme through courses and workshops, and an Outreach programme targeting schools, teachers and the general public through dialogue and science communication activities. http://www.tgac.ac.uk

6. BBSRC invests in world-class bioscience research and training on behalf of the UK public. Our aim is to further scientific knowledge, to promote economic growth, wealth and job creation and to improve quality of life in the UK and beyond. Funded by Government, and with an annual budget of around £467M (2012- 2013), we support research and training in universities and strategically funded institutes. BBSRC research and the people we fund are helping society to meet major challenges, including food security, green energy and healthier, longer lives. Our investments underpin important UK economic sectors, such as farming, food, industrial biotechnology and pharmaceuticals.

For more information about BBSRC, our science and our impact see: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk.

For more information about BBSRC strategically funded institutes see: http://www.bbsrc.ac.uk/institutes

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