ELIXIR, the European life science data infrastructure, is ten years old this month. The infrastructure was launched on 18 December 2013 following the ratification of the ELIXIR Consortium Agreement by five countries and EMBL (European Molecular Biology Laboratory).
Over this time, ELIXIR’s core mission has remained unchanged: to enable researchers to access and analyse life science data by coordinating infrastructure and services across national borders.
As an international distributed infrastructure, ELIXIR is organised around national centres called Nodes. Over the past decade, ELIXIR has grown to include 25 Nodes, made up of 22 Members and three Observers, including Romania and Austria who joined this year. Each Node brings their unique strengths to the infrastructure, and this expertise has been shared via the delivery of over 880 training courses, 30 staff exchanges and 70 travel grants.
Through the national Nodes, ELIXIR brings together over 400 services and has fostered transnational collaborations to build and maintain services such as Life Science Login, RDMkit, Data Stewardship Wizard, FAIR Cookbook and FAIRsharing, BioContainers, WorkflowHub, BioTools, ELIXIR Tess, RO-Crate and Bioschemas. These now form a foundation for the European Open Science Cloud (EOSC) and have supported an ELIXIR project portfolio of over 20 European Commission projects, including ELIXIR-EXCELERATE, ELIXIR-CONVERGE, FAIRplus, B1MG, BY-COVID and GDI.
ELIXIR’s first decade has seen several highlights, which include bringing together European data resources and research communities to establish ELIXIR Core Data Resources and engaging with funders on sustainable strategies for long-term data access and reuse. Large-scale reuse, for instance in artificial intelligence, rests on high quality data, which is underpinned by specialised expertise. To this end, ELIXIR has built a European research data management community by investing in data management resources, training and recognition for data stewards.
ELIXIR has also been instrumental in creating a federated European infrastructure for sensitive data by working with Member States to implement the 1+Million Genomes (1+MG) initiative and providing the underlying secure technical services such as the Federated European Genome-phenome Archive (EGA) and the Beacon network.
In addition, ELIXIR has:
- Allocated over 16.5 million Euros to fund 82 short term technical projects (Commissioned Services) throughout Europe
- Prioritised and awarded landmark status on the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructure (ESFRI) roadmap
- Hosted SME (Small to Medium-sized Enterprise) Forums in 12 countries on topics including artificial intelligence, healthcare diagnostics and distributed data analysis, with one thousand face-to-face participants and the involvement of over 300 companies
- Responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by creating open resources linking biomolecular, cohort and social sciences data to improve European pandemic preparedness.
Niklas Blomberg, ELIXIR’s founding Director, commented: “ELIXIR works with bioinformaticians and life scientists to support community standards and foster the adoption of common solutions. During the past ten years these groups of national and multidisciplinary experts have grown into a vibrant European community. The execution of ELIXIR’s 2024-28 Scientific Programme, released yesterday, will enable insights and results from fundamental molecular and cellular science to support interdisciplinary approaches towards major challenges such as food security, One Health and personalised medicine”.