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Cheryl Critchley
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Victoria will host a state-of-the-art bioinformatics resource hub following a joint agreement between the University of Melbourne and EMBL Australia, through funding from Bioplatforms Australia.

The European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) is Europe’s flagship laboratory for the life sciences. It is at the forefront of innovation in life sciences research, technology development and transfer, and focuses on training and services to its scientific community members.

Based at the Victorian Government-funded supercomputer facility, the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI), this hub  - known as the EMBL Australia Bioinformatics Resource - represents a significant opportunity to advance bioinformatics expertise and to support broader biological sciences research across an Australian network of Universities and Research Institutes.

Professor James McCluskey, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Research at The University of Melbourne and Professor Nadia Rosenthal, Scientific Head at EMBL Australia, announced the signing of an agreement for the relocation of the EMBL Australia Bioinformatics Resource to The University of Melbourne.

The agreement is an acknowledgement of the mature expertise and infrastructure dedicated to life sciences computing which exists in Victoria.

A/Prof. Andrew Lonie, who heads up the VLSCI’s Life Sciences Computation Centre for the University of Melbourne, has been appointed as the Resource’s interim director.

Prof. McCluskey, said A/Prof. Lonie is an outstanding leader in bioinformatics research infrastructure, application and service.

“He will now draw together a range of collaborative partners across Australia to continue to build upon Australia’s national bioinformatics networks and resources, which are crucial in this big-data era,” Prof. McCluskey said.

Over the past three years A/Prof. Lonie has partnered with the University of Queensland to build the Australian Genomics Virtual Laboratory, which is already being widely used for research and teaching in bioinformatics.

This new agreement involves a network of service providers at nodes in Queensland (Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation), New South Wales, (The University of Sydney Schools of Biological Sciences and Medicine), Western Australia (Centre of Excellence in Plant Biology), Adelaide, (University of Adelaide, Flinders University and SAHMRI) and Tasmania (Menzies Research Institute).

They will provide local training and researcher support, plus bioinformatics tools and platform access, modelled on the successful services delivered at VLSCI over the past five years.

“VLSCI is the perfect home for the Resource. Building upon the excellent foundations laid by the original hosts, the University of Queensland, we aim to continue to develop and deliver best practice genomics tools and services, training and expertise to Australian life sciences researchers,” A/Prof. Lonie said.

“We are building on our extensive expertise and assets to ensure we remain at the cutting edge of bioinformatics by working directly with EMBL’s world-leading European Bioinformatics Institute.”

“Through the Resource we are highlighting Australian data and expertise to the world, and making sure we are right at the forefront of international initiatives in bioinformatics infrastructure and training.”

EMBL Australia is funded by the Australian Government through Bioplatforms Australia, a National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy program established to serve the Australian research community's molecular biology needs.