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By Malorye Branca & Kevin Davies

March 17, 2004 | The European Commission has awarded Є12 million ($15.4 million) to establish a pan-European BioSapiens Network of Excellence in Bioinformatics, comprising 24 bioinformatics groups in 14 countries.

This network will form a “virtual institute for research on genome annotation, the process in which information from gene and protein databases is extracted, analyzed, and interpreted,” according to the European Molecular Biology Laboratory-European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI). The network will also set up a permanent European school for training in bioinformatics for experimentalists and more experienced bioinformaticians alike. 

“Whist BioSapiens is primarily a basic research network,” said EBI director and BioSapiens coordinator Janet Thornton in a press release, “it will indirectly benefit the exploitation of biological information to address important social objectives, including improved healthcare, better drugs, new vaccines, personalized medicine, and improved understanding of diet and health.”

The virtual institute will be divided into a series of nodes, each dedicated to one aspect of genome annotation. These annotations will be integrated using the distributed annotation system (DAS) developed by Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Lincoln Stein, and made freely available via a Web portal. 

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