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Newsletter - December 2016

*** DTL wishes you Happy Holidays and a FAIR New Year! ***

Interview: Hans van Duijn’s view on the NWO Roadmap


On 13 December 2016, NWO officially presented its ‘Roadmap for Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructure’. The Roadmap contains 33 research facilities and clusters that will be given a top priority in Dutch science in the next four years. Eighty million euros is available to be distributed among these facilities every two years. Professor Hans van Duijn is the Chair of the Permanent Committee that selected the facilities and clusters. “This has been a wonderful job. I was positively surprised by the talent that is present in the Netherlands and by people’s willingness to collaborate,” he says.

The Dutch government acknowledges that widely accessible state-of-the-art research facilities are crucial to science. That is why the cabinet has asked NWO to appoint a Permanent Committee to develop a strategic framework for large-scale scientific infrastructure. Hans van Duijn, former rector of Eindhoven University of Technology, was appointed as the chair and the Committee started its work in the late summer of 2015.Van Duijn: “We started from scratch, making an inventory of Dutch research facilities in need of investment. This resulted in a list of approximately 160 facilities. It was obvious to all stakeholders that there were insufficient funds to support all of these facilities.”

Hans van Duijn (Photo: Kick Smeets)
Condensing the list
Therefore, the committee made a selection based on the facilities’ importance to science and their compatibility with strategic priorities, such as the Dutch National Research Agenda, the top sectors, and the European roadmap for large-scale research facilities (ESFRI). The condensed list consists of 16 individual facilities and 17 clusters of facilities. Van Duijn explains: “We noted that various facilities requested similar equipment and that new investments were planned even if there was capacity at existing facilities. It was clear that people needed to talk to each other. Therefore, we asked several facilities to work together and form clusters. This was well-received; people seemed to understand the necessity and we encountered a remarkable willingness to collaborate.” 

Role for DTL
Among the 33 are many life sciences-related facilities and clusters in which DTL plays an active role. Van Duijn: “I was introduced to DTL during our landscape analysis. DTL has a very good reputation and knows the Dutch life sciences facilities from the inside out. Read more. 

Large-scale research facilities

ELIXIR-NL will coordinate data approaches of Dutch life sciences facilities
Last week, NWO officially presented its ‘Roadmap for Large-Scale Scientific Infrastructure’. ELIXIR-NL is one of the 33 research facilities and clusters on the Roadmap. “We have been asked to coordinate the data approach of the life sciences facilities,” says Jaap Heringa, Head of ELIXIR’s Dutch node. Read more.

Watch the ELIXIR video
In the European research infrastructure for life science data and bioinformatics (ELIXIR), Europe’s leading research organisations jointly develop methods to manage and safeguard the massive amounts of data generated by the life sciences. DTL hosts the Dutch node of ELIXIR (ELIXIR-NL). ELIXIR has now produced a video to explain its core business.

Health-RI conference: setting our course
On 1 December 2016, more than 250 professionals joined in Amersfoort to determine the compass course for the Health-RI initiative. This national initiative aims to establish an interconnected data infrastructure for Dutch personalised medicine and health research. The conference featured inspiring examples of personalised medicine in action and lively discussions about the ethical, technical and political hurdles on the road. Read the conference report on the DTL website or watch the Health-RI video.

Please contact Ruben Kok if you have a question about large-scale research facilities.

FAIR data events

Good data stewardship is rapidly becoming an essential part of modern science. To facilitate data stewardship and to promote open science, a broad community of international stakeholders have developed the FAIR principles, that ensure data are Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable. The FAIR principles have been embraced by the European Commission and the G20 and are becoming a norm of research funding organisations.

The DTL network actively promotes FAIR data stewardship, for instance by organising ‘Bring your own data (BYOD) workshops’ (to make data FAIR) and FAIR hackathons (to make tools FAIR), and by driving the development of technology and other infrastructure to support FAIR data stewardship. In the last months of 2016, several FAIR data events took place. You can read reports on the DTL website: Of course, we have already planned several FAIR data events in 2017. You can find more information on the DTL FAIR hackathon wiki pages and on the DTL BYOD wiki.

Please contact Mascha Jansen for questions about FAIR data activities.

Data handling

From data to impact: a roadmap towards a data-driven agri & food sector
Earlier this year, DTL, TKI Agri & Food, and TIFN conducted a survey among stakeholders in the Agri & Food sector in collaboration with DTL partner EdgeLeap. The survey aimed to make an inventory of current and future practices and needs for data storage, handling and analysis. The outcomes uncovered emerging trends across different sectors and organisations. Read more.

Data handling: what’s in a name?
There currently is a lack of consensus about the nomenclature of various concepts in the field of data handling. This regularly gives rise to confusion. A number of people involved in the Data4lifesciences programme have generated a list of terms and definitions related to data handling. The team would appreciate your feedback on the list. Read more.

Please contact Rob Hooft if you have a question about the DTL Data programme or ELIXIR-NL.

Training and education

DTL Learning and the GOBLET of fire
On the doorstep of the holiday season, the term ‘GOBLET’ may remind of atmospheric movies. But GOBLET also is the ‘Global Organisation for Bioinformatics Learning, Education & Training’. Dr Celia van Gelder was recently elected  as a member of the GOBLET Executive Board. She explains what GOBLET is about. Read more.
EmTraG: new initiative to improve the coordination of metabolomics training across Europe
A European Metabolomics Training Coordination Group (EmTraG) has been launched to implement a metabolomics training strategy. EmTraG will collaborate closely with ELIXIR (and the ELIXIR Training Platform) at a European level and the Metabolomics Society at an international level. Read more.
Hands-on workshop on data management tools for translational research: a report
On 15 November 2016, TraIT, BBMRI-NL, and DTL co-organised a workshop about data management tools for translational research. The session was part of a Partnerships MeetUp, organised by Lygature. Workshop participants gained hands-on experience in biomedical translational data management, data sharing and associated infrastructures. Read more.
Lorentz Center opens new Common Room
On 15 December 2016, the Lorentz Center in Leiden officially opened its renewed common room. The Lorentz Center is an international centre for scientific workshops, which has hosted several fruitful workshops in which DTL participated, including the 2014 ‘Jointly designing a data FAIRport’ workshop. So in a way, the cradle of the FAIR data principles stood in the Lorentz center. Read more.

Please contact Celia van Gelder if you have a question about the DTL Learning programme or outreach activities.

Upcoming meetings and events

DTL programmers meeting: 20 January
To encourage collaboration and communication between scientific programmers active in the Dutch life sciences field, DTL organises regular programmers meetings in collaboration with SURF. Subjects of the lectures and workshops range from new developments in programming languages through practical tips and tricks to direct life science applications. The next meeting is planned for 20 January 2017.

BIUP company visit: 27 January
The BioInformatics Industrial User Platform (BIUP) is a DTL Interest Group consisting of Dutch companies that use bioinformatics expertise and tools in their research and product development. It is an open platform for knowledge exchange and informal discussions. On 27 January 2017, BIUP will organise a company visit to Genetwister in Wageningen. Read more.

Netherlands Metabolomics Centre annual meeting: 27 January
On 27 January 2017, the Netherlands Metabolomics Centre will organise its annual meeting to bring together the Metabolomics community in the Netherlands. This year's topic will be the Gut Microbiome. Read more.

BioSB conference: 4-5 April
Save the date for the 3rd edition of the Bioinformatics and Systems Biology conference organised by the BioSB research school, Groningen University, and UMC Groningen. The conference will be held on 4 and 5 April 2017 at the conference center De Werelt in Lunteren. More information can be found on the conference website.

A complete list of upcoming courses and events is available on the DTL website. Please contact Femke Francissen if you have a question about events.

Partner news

We warmly welcome five new partners that recently joined DTL: Maastricht University, Naturalis, Lygature, Bluebee, and Evidencio. All DTL partners contribute to and benefit from the collective development and application of advanced technologies and data approaches in life science research. Read more about our partners on the DTL partner list and please contact Ruben Kok if you want information on how to become a DTL partner.
On 8 November 2016, the new SURFsara datacenter was opened in the Amsterdam Data Tower. With a future storage capacity of an exabyte – 1 million terabytes – the Netherlands can enter the exa-scale league, the Champions League for scientific research. Read more.
Maastricht University has recruited Michel Dumontier, a data scientist and semantic web specialist who participates in the FAIR Skunkworks group. Dumontier is relocating to Maastricht from the prestigious Stanford Center for Biomedical Informatics Research at Stanford University. Read more.
Derk Arts, CEO of DTL’s new partner Castor EDC, defended his PhD thesis ‘Improving Medical Decision Making. Stroke Prevention in Atrial Fibrillation’ in November. Read more.
The inaugural lecture of Dr Andre L.A.J. Dekker took place on 17 November. He has been appointed as a Professor in ‘Clinical Data Science’ at the Faculty of Health, Medicine and Life Sciences of Maastricht University. Read more.
The inaugural lecture of Dr Connie Jimenez took place on 14 December. She has been appointed as a Professor in Translational Oncoproteomics at the VU University in Amsterdam. Read more.
The Netherlands eScience Center has announced the initiation of eight new projects in the areas of Environment & Sustainability, Life Sciences & eHealth, Humanities & Social Sciences, Physics & Beyond and Disruptive Computer & Data Science. The projects are the result of the 2016 ASDI (Accelerating Scientific Discovery) and DTEC (Disruptive Technologies) Calls. Read more.
The Life Science Grid accommodates life scientists at Dutch universities and medical centers to perform data analysis or other computational work. Your work can vary in scale and type, from occasional analyses up to thousands of production jobs continuously, and on datasets ranging from a few gigabytes to hundreds of terabytes and beyond. Three use cases on the SURF website may give you an impression of what the Life Science Grid can do for you.

If your organisation is a DTL Partner, you can announce your news, events, courses, and job vacancies on the DTL website. Please send these items to
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Dutch Techcentre for Life Sciences · Catharijnesingel 54 · Utrecht, 3511GC · Netherlands

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