BioExcel: building a FAIR bioinformatics environment

BioExcel was present in the last bioinformatics event from the Network Tools and Applications in Biology (Nettab) workshop series: Building a FAIR Bioinformatics environment (22nd to 24th October).

The event was held in the beautiful city of Genoa, the capital of the Italian region of Liguria. Known as “the city of the palaces”, Genoa has 42 palaces in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 2006. But they are actually a small part of the more than 100 recognized palaces existing in the city, treasures from the extraordinary economic and political power of Genoa in the XVI-XVII centuries. The workshop was actually hosted in the headquarters of the Polytechnic School of the University of Genoa, located in a historic palace designed by Galeazo Alessi and built in 1548, in the Villa Giustiniani-Cambiaso.

Immersed in this fantastic environment, a bioinformatics community of 70 people joined together to share their work and interests around FAIR data and tools. The FAIR guiding principles for scientific data management, published in 2016, were collected and presented to provide guidelines to improve the Findability, Accessibility, Interoperability, and Reuse of digital assets. The FAIR principles have been deeply accepted and adopted in the Life Science community, especially in the ELIXIR infrastructure.

Therefore, a great representation of the ELIXIR platforms and projects were present at the meeting. Carole Goble & Rob Hooft, from the interoperability platform, Frederik Coppens & Rafael Jiménez, from the tools platform, Allegra Via & Patricia Palagi, from the training platform, Christine Durinx, from the data platform, and Marco Roos, from the rare disease user community, all of them had a slot of time assigned to talk about their work around FAIR.

BioExcel center of excellence, with its interest on software best practices and in particular on applying the FAIR principles to software tools development, was also present in the event, with the talk entitled: BioExcel & ELIXIR: towards interoperable and reproducible biomolecular research workflows. The work done with the workflows building blocks software library (described in 10.5281/zenodo.263965) applied to biomolecular simulation tools was presented. The alignment with the 4 OSS recommendations, also presented in the conference by one of his first authors, Mateusz Kuzak, and the FAIR principles applied to software tools was discussed using as an example one of the workflows designed in the project, the Model Protein Mutants.

Overall, the conference was a fantastic opportunity to meet key people in the FAIR data field, and to discuss with them how these principles should be applied to software. It was also really encouraging to see how many people are working hard on pushing this initiative forward, and how many projects on FAIRification are being started: FAIRDOM, GO-FAIR, FAIR Metrics, etc.

As a touch of humor, Rob Hooft, from the Dutch Techcentre for Life Sciences, shared a video with us with a data management horror story that exposes the importance of FAIR data in science, and how we should NOT work with our data.

Looking forward to the next BioExcel event! Don’t forget to keep an eye to our news and events web page:




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