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In 2013, ELIXIR initiated the implementation phase of an infrastructure for biological information. This is achieved by linking the bio-industry organisations of ELIXIR’s member countries to the services provided by EMBL-EBI (European Molecular Biology Laboratory).

ELIXIR is made up of Life Science Centres of Excellence located across Europe. These so-called ELIXIR nodes are connected via high-speed communications links to the hub, or the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI), located in Hinxton, UK.

Through ELIXIR biomedical researchers have access to very large biological data sets. The Finnish ELIXIR node supports the utilisation of “big data” by means of information technology. One example of this is the use of the genetic data from the Finnish population, digitised by the National Institute for Health and Welfare and Institute for Molecular Medicine Finland, in medical science. Operations of the ELIXIR Finland are provided by the Finnish IT Center for Science, CSC.

Read the road map of ELIXIR computing platform.

Biomedical research has become data and computing intensive. Data analysis requires more and more sophisticated software and combinations thereof. Research teams have created their own analysis methods to meet the growing need, but computing resources and methods seem unable to keep pace with this development. Researchers also need resources to store data and access to reference data in order to make reasonable comparisons with the latest knowledge. Access requires personal access rights. The volume of reference data, such as the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA http://cancergenome.nih.gov), already amounts to hundreds of terabytes. The best way to respond to the challenge is to use cloud services with the reference data available. The Finnish node designs these services in cooperation with biomedical organisations.

REMS (Resource Entitlement Management System), developed by CSC, is a tool used to manage access rights to bioinformatics databases. Through REMS, researchers can apply for access to research data, and the owners of the rights to the materials can process the received applications and manage access rights. Users can access REMS through, for example, a federated trust network. The HAKA user identification system of Finnish universities and research institutes is one such network. After logging into the system, users can search for data resources. REMS transfers the application to the owner of the resource and reports on the rights granted.