ELIXIR-UK All Hands and Conference of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology 2021

This year the annual ELIXIR-UK All Hands was held in partnership with the UK Conference of Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (UK CBCB), organised by the Earlham Institute. This was done to highlight the role of ELIXIR-UK in the computational biology sphere and to allow us to reach a wider audience of life scientists than we would usually expect.

We held our usual update on all the things ELIXIR-UK has achieved over the past year before the main conference. This session was well attended with other 50 people joining us for the virtual session.

One of our Heads of Node Carole Goble from the University of Manchester gave a review of the year for ELIXIR, highlighting the ELIXIR 2020 Annual report as well as plans to expand communities and focus groups. She also spoke about all the European projects that ELIXIR-UK is involved in, including EOSC-life and  FAIRplus, as well as giving an update on the current Progress around BioFAIR.

We heard an update from the community, including the Health Data Community which ELIXIR-UK are keen to continue and increase involvement in, and the Training Platform, where UK leads have made progress on CONVERGE WP targets in training impact and capacity building. 

We then had an update from Robert Andrews from Cardiff University on the FAIR Data Stewardship Training Project, which has recently announced nine Fellows who have joined for the first round of the Fellowship programme. Finally, we announced seven new services that have joined ELIXIR-UK.

For the next three days, we enjoyed talks from researchers across the UK and further afield in topics including data management, metabolomics and genotype to phenotype. The talks sparked interesting discussions and the conference brought together a broad range of people working in a variety of life science disciplines.

ELIXIR-UK had a strong presence at the conference, with Head of Node Neil Hall and ELIXIR-UK member Ralf Weber chairing sessions. Philippe Rocca-Serra from the University of Oxford presented the FAIR Cookbook, which has just become a new ELIXIR-UK service, in the Data Management session.

ELIXR-UK also had an extremely strong presence in the poster session, with three new services and four existing services all presenting posters. It was great to see our services reaching a wide audience in the Bioinformatics and Computational Biology sphere. 

Finally, one of the highlights of the conference was a session chaired by Robert Andrews from Cardiff University and Krzysztof Poterlowicz from the University of Bradford, which brought together projects funded through the UKRI Innovation Scholars – Data Science Training in Health and Bioscience call. This includes the ELIXIR-UK FAIR Data Stewardship Training project, which was presented by Krzysztof. These projects are all working to develop training in this area, and it was great to see the overlap and connections between the different projects. We hope that bringing together these projects will result in more communication and collaboration between them, leading to a stronger outcome for all. 

Thank you to all of the speakers, session chairs and attendees who made this event so successful. A big thank you as well to the team at the Earlham Institute for organising such a great conference. We look forward to next year’s event, which we hope may be able to bring people together in person!

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