Biology is increasingly a digital science driving fundamental transformations of enormous value in health, agriculture and environmental management. As more data is generated by increasingly sophisticated instruments, the data intense biosciences are putting a strain on current Australian research infrastructure capacities, creating a national bioinformatics challenge.
A strategic partnership between Bioplatforms Australia and the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) will put Australia on the front foot in response to the national bioinformatics challenge. The two organisations are investing in a national initiative known as the Australian Bioinformatics Commons (BioCommons). The BioCommons is an ambitious new digital capability that will enhance Australian researchers’ ability to understand the molecular basis of life across environmental, agricultural and biomedical science.
“The BioCommons initiative showcases the strong innovative and collaborative nature of Australia’s research sector and our ability to provide researchers with a competitive advantage through data. We are very pleased to be collaborating with Bioplatforms Australia and universities at the cutting-edge of research,” Rosie Hicks, CEO of the ARDC said.
This large-scale investment in digital infrastructure will ensure Australian life science research remains globally competitive. Researchers can tap into the expertise, infrastructure and software that enables them to perform complex analyses such as genome assemblies, comparative genomics and correlative analyses to respond to national challenges such as food security, environmental conservation and disease treatments.
The BioCommons will deliver new bioinformatics tools and services for the estimated 30,000 publicly funded bioscience researchers in Australia. It will also investigate and provide recommendations for the services and tools that are needed to make sense of data on subjects such as DNA sequencing, proteomic and metabolic analysis at a large scale.
The first phase of the BioCommons will actively engage the Australian bioscience community to deliver:
- a ‘BioCloud’: computing infrastructure and services that are appropriate for data-driven biology research
- non-model organism de novo genome assembly and annotation services
- operation of a ‘Bring Your Own Data’ platform to enable researchers to access tools, data, workflows and compute
- impact to Australian Researchers by participating in a Global Data Commons.
The ARDC was a founding participant (together with Bioplatforms and AARNet) of the first phase of the BioCommons providing $1million co-investment. Aspects have now been operationalised through an ARDC Platforms investment, co-invested by Bioplatforms and a series of institutional participants.
“We’re really pleased to be working with ARDC to ensure the estimated 30,000 publicly funded bioscience researchers in Australia can have tailored access to their services and expertise. Access to ARDC’s capability will be leveraged to provide additional impact to Australian researchers, especially their digital technology and storage tools required to perform advanced computations and their data management and digital workforce transition expertise,” Andrew Gilbert, CEO of Bioplatforms Australia said.