A European collaboration to handle data in life science

In research projects all over Europe, valuable data are generated but usually remain local and lack a broader use. ELIXIR, the European infrastructure for life science information, aims to provide access to this wealth of bioinformatics tools and biological data. It creates sustainability through long-term data-storage and databases. ELIXIR offers the possibility to archive, integrate, analyse and exploit the large and heterogeneous data sets of modern life science research beyond the life-time of individual research projects.

ELIXIR-LU, a Luxembourgish node within the European infrastructure

ELIXIR-LU is based at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg. ELIXIR-LU is the Node for Translational Medicine data, i.e. integrated molecular and clinical data. It aims to meet with the increasing demand for IT services in biology and medicine, and interface with both the pharmaceutical industry and the clinical healthcare.

The ELIXIR-LU team consists of members of the LCSB Bioinformatics Core. This group has extensive experience in the field of bioinformatics, computational, structural and systems biology, is involved in several national and international projects on Translational Medicine and has both academic and industrial track-record. For example, the team is currently building up the first international Translational Medicine repositories in the area of Parkinson’s disease and epilepsy.

Challenges and solutions

Nowadays a major hurdle in the use of biomedical data by a wider research community is the lack of suitable data management systems that collect and integrate all types of data. For example, the numerous terminologies in clinical data are challenging, as well as the separation between data coming from clinic and laboratory. This fragmentation and lack of standards make it difficult to integrate those data into centralised comprehensive repositories and lead to poor interoperability between platforms and projects. Due to the sensitive nature of these data, security and protection requirements, handling access can also be quite complex. ELIXIR-LU is developing different services to provide solutions.