Genomic data generation is accelerating at an exponential rate, driven by the rapid development of high-throughput sequencing technologies, posing new demands and challenges for data handling, storage and transmission. Under the MoU, researchers from BGI, TTI GG, NLeSC and NBIC have agreed to encourage collaborative initiatives and community building in the areas of data management, infrastructure and analysis within their respective programmes. Such collaboration will encourage the development and sharing of services, infrastructure and facilities with the goal of enabling more sustainable and effective access and understanding of genomic data.
BGI has conducted considerable research to tackle the flood of genomic data. In late 2011, it developed a BGI-BOX Cloud computing terminal server for users lacking a bioinformatics background to access genomic data and bioinformatics analyses in their own laboratories. In addition, BGI and open-access publisher BioMed Central launched GigaScience, a new combined database and journal focused on the publication and hosting of large-scale data. The journal makes it possible for the release of large data sets more rapidly to the wider research community.
"Genomics revolutionized the life sciences", stated Professor Jian Wang, president of BGI, "but the growing flood of genomic data poses an enormous challenge to optimizing and sustaining the benefit of high-throughput sequencing technologies. BGI has made significant efforts to tackle this challenge to advancing life science research, and this cooperative agreement should provide an example for researchers worldwide on the importance and value of shared, sustainable data management and data manipulation in biological and medical studies."
The signing of MOU provides an opportunity for scientists from China and The Netherlands to achieve powerful co-operation for better taming tremendous data. Dr. Bernard de Geus, director of TTI GG, stated in brief: Big data: Big expectation, big challenge, big opportunity". TTI GG has been established jointly by Dutch companies in the area of plant breeding and propagation, universities and knowledge institutions with the mission being to promote research and education and to create continuity in Dutch knowledge and education base.
NLeSC is a joint initiative by the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research NWO and SURF, which supports and reinforces multidisciplinary and data-intensive research through eScience, the creative and innovative use of ICT and e-infrastructures in all its manifestations with the aim to change scientific practice by enabling large-scale "Big Data" analysis across multiple disciplines. Professor dr. Jacob de Vlieg, director of NLeSC, stated: "This is a very exciting initiative to link minds and eScience concepts between scientists from BGI and The Netherlands, and to promote 'Big Data' driven scientific discoveries in the fields of genomics and bioinformatics."
NBIC, the national networked organization of bioinformatics, pursues innovation in life sciences R&D through seamless integration of life science data, information and models in the quantitative analysis of biological systems. Dr. Barend Mons, Scientific director of NBIC, stated: "As soon as one measures anything in the 'Omics' era, one needs computers even to manage the data. For understanding them and turning them into knowledge, computational methods are indispensable and traditional methods of information sharing are hopelessly out of date. We should work together to face this challenge."