ELIXIR and the Australian BioCommons announce extension of collaboration strategy to 2028

Celebrating the collaboration strategy at the All Hands Meeting 2023. Left to right: Gareth Price, Service Manager (Galaxy Australia), Niklas Blomberg (ELIXIR Director),  Jeff Christiansen (Australian BioCommons Deputy Director), Katharine Heil (ELIXIR Programme Manager Communities and Training), Corinne Martin (ELIXIR Programme Manager - Impact and International), Peter Maccallum (ELIXIR Chief Technical Officer), Frederik Coppens (ELIXIR Belgium), Björn Grüning (ELIXIR Germany).

 

ELIXIR, the European life science data infrastructure, has renewed its collaboration strategy with Australian BioCommons, its Australian counterpart. Both organisations work to further open access to resources to understand the molecular basis of life and have been collaborating for many years, leading an original collaboration strategy in 2020.

Renewing of the strategy, signed in April 2023, was formally marked at an in-person gathering at the ELIXIR All Hands meeting in Dublin last week, which included a plenary presentation by Australian BioCommons Deputy Director, Jeff Christiansen.

The mutually beneficial strategy has been extended until 2028 and builds on the successes of the last three years to further share technical experience between the infrastructures, along with giving both organisations a more global perspective.

The collaboration will continue to use a range of activities including reciprocal invitations at signature meetings, working together to create special sessions at key bioinformatics events, closer linkages and interactions on existing mutually beneficial activities, study visits by ELIXIR and Australian BioCommons experts, and staff exchanges.

Notable achievements:  2020 to 2023

During the past three years, there have been achievements in five technical areas, selected examples are listed below.

Training

  • Exchanged best practices in training between the BioCommons Training team and the ELIXIR Training Platform
  • Leveraged the ELIXIR TeSS (Training eSupport System) codebase and technical architecture for the development of DReSA (Digital Research Skills Australasia). In turn, sharing the code base from DReSA back with TeSS
  • Established the first Australian outpost for BioHackathon Europe 2022, with in-depth contribution across time zones.

Tools (including Galaxy)

  • Jointly improved the Galaxy Project ecosystem through deployment of AlphaFold, an improved job scheduler and internationalisation of Galaxy’s Training Infrastructure as a Service
  • Collaborated on best practice and training in bio.tools, EDAM ontologies, containers and performance benchmarking
  • Adopted WorkflowHub as an Australian national workflows registry (now with 47 workflows, 6 partner organisations, 69,831 views, 467 downloads)

Compute and AAI (Authentication and Authorisation Infrastructure)

  • Incorporated learnings from a study tour into the BioCommons AAI project, including the Authentication and Authorisation for Research and Collaboration (AARC) blueprint architecture
  • Shared knowledge with ELIXIR on commercial cloud as BioCommons upgrades the national Nextflow tower
  • Exchanged expertise on the BioCommons ABLeS program (enabling access to Australia’s Tier-1 high performance computing centres) as an exemplar providing compute access within a lightweight policy framework

Data (including human data)

  • Jointly chaired the Research Data Alliance (RDA)’s Life Science Data Infrastructures Interest Group
  • Shared expertise around enabling more efficient data publishing and re-use in a global context
  • Explored establishing a federated node of the EGA in Australia, with the BioCommons Human Genome Informatics team joining ELIXIR’s Federated Human Data Community 

Forward facing: 2023 to 2028

Looking to the future, ELIXIR and the Australian BioCommons aim to build on the successes of the past three years in the areas of training, tools, and compute deepen existing partnerships between corresponding ELIXIR and BioCommons communities. New links will be developed with the ELIXIR Data and Interoperability Platforms and in a wider range of special interest groups, including the nascent ELIXIR Biodiversity and Research Data Management (RDM) Communities.

There is a renewed commitment to face-to-face interactions, including longer visits and staff exchanges. These kick off with an ELIXIR delegation, from both the ELIXIR Hub and Nodes, travelling to Brisbane for the Galaxy Community Conference in July 2023 and staying on after the meeting to build in-person links across both infrastructures.

Find out more

Contacts: ELIXIR (corinne.martin [at] elixir-europe.org (subject: ELIXIR%2FAustralian%20BioCommons%20Collaboration%20Strategy) (Corinne Martin)), Australian Biocommons (christina [at] biocommons.org.au (subject: ELIXIR%2FAustralian%20BioCommons%20Collaboration%20Strategy) (Christina Hall))

Supported by:

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Mon 19 June 2023