Guest blog by Dr Stephanie Suhr, Project Manager of BioMed-Bridges – a project coordinated by EMBL-EBI on behalf of ELIXIR say you are studying a disease in human patients, such as diabetes and obesity, and you are looking at the human DNA sequence to try and find out whether specific mutations could be contributing to it. As all mammals shared a common ancestor approximately 80 million years ago, their genomes show great similarities. This means that non-human mammals can be used as experimental models for human disease.

BioMedBridges is a joint effort of ten biomedical sciences research infrastructures on the roadmap of the European Strategy Forum for Research Infrastructures (ESFRI). Together, the partners will strengthen biomedical resources by developing technical bridges to allow interoperability between data and services in the biological, medical, translational and clinical domains.

Data is at the heart of modern science, and research infrastructures generate increasingly large amounts of it. Preserving complex data and/or making it available, accessible and discoverable for users requires robust plans to store, organise, integrate and, where applicable, distribute them. This knowledge exchange workshop is aimed at project managers and coordinators of research infrastructures, with the goal of helping participants to understand (1) the data challenges of their infrastructure, and (2) the data-related support needed by infrastructure users. A combination of presentations and breakout sessions will consider the many drivers that may influence the development of a data strategy for research infrastructures; including scientific and technical considerations, policy, financial costs, user needs, and ethical, legal & social aspects. Input from participants before the workshop will identify priority areas for discussion.

This is what partners in the BioMedBridges project have been working on: over the last three and a half years – by developing ontologies and semantic web technologies to enable innovative, large-scale data analysis across the biological, biomedical and clinical domains – they have built the infrastructure to translate between and integrate different data sources, enabling the use of data from publicly funded research in new and different contexts.
BioMedBridges forms a cluster of the emerging biomedical sciences research infrastructures (BMS RIs) and construct the data and service bridges needed to connect them.
–  The BMS RIs are on the roadmap of the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI)
– The missions of the BMS RIs stretch from structural biology of specific biomolecules to clinical trials on thousands of human patients
-Most serve a specific part of the vast biological and medical research community, estimated to be at least two million scientists in Europe across more than 1000 institutions from more than 36 ESFRI Member States and Associated Countries
-Each of them brings together its own large community of users to build a coordinated infrastructure. This process has already had a major impact on coordination of national infrastructures within each member state
-Essentially all BMS RIs are distributed infrastructures, with nodes in many European member states
All BMS RIs will support world class biological and medical research and further our understanding of biological processes.  The information they will generate will advance the state of the art and will contribute to our growing understanding of biological processes.

This international symposium will provide a forum to discuss recent advances in infrastructure to support data sharing and interoperability in the biological, medical, translational and clinical domains. Recent developments to address some of the most important challenges will be presented. Open to the entire life science community, plenary sessions and interactive workshops will provide ample room to discuss data challenges and opportunities in the life sciences now and in future.

Steffi Suhr, ELIXIR Senior Project Manager, has recently produced a guest blog post for Scientific Data. Entitled ‘Opening the bridges for life science data’, the post provides an update on the BioMedBridges project and welcomes the opening of registration for the Symposium Open Bridges for Life Science Data, which takes place in Hinxton on 17-18 November.