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GÉANT and EMBL-EBI – driving the bioinformatics revolution in life sciences

Combining sophisticated bioinformatics databases with high-speed, robust networks to share and store increasing volumes of vital biological data across the globe

The DNA sequencing of thousands of organisms has revolutionised the life sciences, with the work of research organisations across the world unleashing huge volumes of data, changing how research is conducted. Data generated by biological experiments is now doubling every five months. Access to this information allows vital analysis to be completed, cost-effectively, in minutes, rather than years.

Bioinformatics – the science of storing, managing and integrating data from biological experiments – is therefore a vital part of modern life sciences research. The European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) is leading this revolution in information sharing. Set up to create and provide bioinformatics services that make data available to all, it collaborates with hundreds of partners around the world to manage terabytes of information from thousands of life sciences projects. These include the ground-breaking 1000 Genomes Project, a major international research effort that aims to understand human genetic variation and consequently underpin advances in the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment of disease.

This information sharing relies on high-speed, robust networks that can carry huge volumes of information between researchers across the globe. To achieve this EMBL-EBI has worked closely with JANET, the UK’s National Research and Education Network (NREN) and the GÉANT pan-European research and education network. Together, JANET and GÉANT partnered with EMBL-EBI to explore, understand and implement a secure, robust and high-speed network architecture that meets its needs now and in the future, currently transmitting over 80 terabytes of data per month to users around the world. 

The Challenge
To store, manage and integrate the skyrocketing volume and variety of biological information produced in life sciences research, and to make it available to the global scientific community

The Solution
Working in partnership, the JANET and GÉANT networks provide seamless, high-performance links between the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) in Cambridge, UK and scientists located throughout the world, enabling real-time, global access to the world’s largest collection of molecular databases.

Key Benefits
The results of large-scale, ground-breaking initiatives such as the 1000 Genomes Project can now be distributed and made available for analysis quickly. This kind of research has already been used in several important medical studies, and shows how genetic research is enabling rapid advances in the medical sciences.

Read the full case study

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