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REPORT: BioMedBridges workshop on e-Infrastructure support for the life sciences – Preparing for the data deluge

Suhr, Stephanie; Cochrane, Guy; Stanford, Natalie J.; Boiten, Jan-Willem; Swedlow, Jason; Morris, Chris; Jimenez, Rafael; Neerincx, Pieter

This BioMedBridges knowledge exchange workshop, held on 15-16 May in Hinxton and hosted by ELIXIR, provided a forum for the biomedical sciences research infrastructures (BMS RIs) to discuss their possible future service requirements with e‐infrastructure providers including GÉANT, PRACE, EGI, and CERN Openlab. The workshop addressed biological ‘big data’ and the challenges to be faced by the life sciences five years from now and further into the future, focussing on the needs for storage, transfer and computation of biological data.

Data growth will change how the life sciences work today. Although different communities (currently) use different models, there may be common approaches and solutions that must be identified. At the same time, existing technology must be used more efficiently and the life science community has to evaluate the practicality of storing everything. Data protection/security and issues around sensitive data (e.g. patient data) make life science big data more challenging.

There are an opportunities both for e-infrastructures to better understand data-related challenges of the life sciences (BMS RIs), and for the BMS RI to get better at defining their requirements. Practically, at least part of the initial engagement with e-infrastructures should be local/bilateral between BMS RIs and e.g. the corresponding national nodes of individual e-infrastructures; a more generic overview can then be achieved once there are working examples or concrete use cases. Overall, there is a need for capabilities development in the life sciences concerning how to deal with scientific data and IT services that must be addressed.

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