Belgium is the latest country to join ELIXIR, following the signature of the ELIXIR Consortium Agreement by the Secretary of State for Science Policy, Elke Sleurs, and its approval by the ELIXIR Board.
Led by the Flemish Institute of Biotechnology (Vlaams Instituut voor Biotechnologie, VIB), the Belgian ELIXIR Node is composed of seven universities and five research centres: Universities of Ghent, Leuven, Antwerp, Hasselt, Liège, Brussels (VUB and ULB), VIB, IMEC, ExaScience Life Lab, GIGA, and the Cyclotron Research Centre.
The Belgian Node concentrates on sustainable agriculture and human health, and offers several databases, resources and bioinformatics infrastructures in the two domains, supported by expertise in biostatistics and machine learning.
Another focus area is high performance and big data computing, particularly computing resources for next generation sequencing data handling. To this end the node aims to leverage the computing resources available through the Flemish Supercomputer Centre and the Walloon Consortium of High-Performance Computing Centres.
François Guissart, Belgian delegate to the ELIXIR Board said: “Belgium has a significant number of R&D driven biotech companies that collaborate with academic institutes and research centres; together they have developed numerous important plant genomics resources, unique data mining and biostatistical tools, and databases for plant molecular biology. I am looking forward to integrating these services with the rest of Europe through ELIXIR."
Belgium becomes the 15th ELIXIR Member, following France and Spain that joined ELIXIR in October 2015.