Programme

Unifying Biology through Informatics (UBTI)

Our economy, supply of food and materials, our health, and individual and collective well-being are set within the context of our natural world. Our world is under pressure from the demands of a growing population. Biologists need new ways to access, organize and analyze biological information to better predict the nature of future change and to inform decisions makers. Biological information relates to elements as small as subatomic particles, and as large as the entire biosphere, and to processes that last from less than a femtosecond to many billions of years. We must develop and integrate the informatics tools, processes and skills to manage digital information across the full spectrum of biological phenomena. The first component is to index all information out there using tools that manage the problems that arise from the use of many different names for each species and the increasing use of molecular identifiers for species. The new tools must penetrate deep into the long tail of information sources. 'Unifying Biology Through Informatics' will articulate, in increasing detail, the nature of an indexing infrastructure capable of evolving in response to the evolving needs of producers and users of data; the hosting, funding and sustainability of the infrastructure, and the political and social changes needed to secure the adoption, longevity, and use of the infrastructure. The programme will identify selected use-cases, and use them to identify the most pressing challenges and opportunities.

Leader

Nils Chr. Stenseth

Steering Committee

Nils Chr. Stenseth (Norway), David Patterson (Ireland), David Shorthouse (Canada)

IUBS National Committees involved in the project

Australian Academy of Sciences

Royal Irish Academy 

IUBS Scientific Members involved in the project

Biodiversity Information Standards (Taxonomic Database Working Group, TDWG)

Field of Research

Biological information management

Disciplines involved

Biodiversity, Molecular Biology, Ecology, Computing Science, Informatics

Questions addressed

The programme will articulate the scope and scale of biology, the likely nature of an infrastructure, existing elements, technical (e.g. ontologies and data transfer schemas), sociological (e.g. open access) issues, where an infrastructure may be housed, sustainable funding, and a road map for a comprehensive infrastructure. The Programme will target production-grade indexing services to optimise access to digital information about Biology.