UK Node’s collaborative presence at 2024 ELIXIR All Hands

UK Node members spread across the meeting, leading or presenting in more than half of the workshops and mini-symposia

Members of ELIXIR-UK attended in force the 2024 ELIXIR Europe All Hands meeting in Uppsala, Sweden, during the week of June 13th, 2024, to discuss collaborative solutions to life sciences data challenges and align strategies with the new ELIXIR scientific programme.

This year, 25 members of ELIXIR-UK from 13 different organisations attended the All Hands meeting in person, leading or presenting in nearly 60% of all sessions and numerous posters. Such great representation highlights the diversity and collaborative nature of the UK Node’s work across all scientific areas of ELIXIR.

With a focus on generating impact and long-lasting connections, UK Node members attended this meeting from multiple organisations, at different career stages and with diverse interests, from infrastructure development to strategic partnerships.

“The ELIXIR UK Node is such a vibrant and productive member of the ELIXIR community, consistently demonstrating leadership across numerous all-hands sessions. We are proud of our members and the energy they bring to this European network”

Prof Carole Goble, Joint Head of Node
  • A profile picture of Urmi Trivedi, member of ELIXIR-UK

The focus of the UK Node at the All Hands

International collaboration

International collaboration was a significant focus, with Gerry Reilly, Interim Director of BioFAIR, and Eva Wan, Project Manager of BioFAIR, presenting on “Collaborative pathways for BioFAIR UK, ELIXIR, and European Life Science.” This workshop discussed collaboration between national infrastructure projects, featuring presentations from collaborators at the Australian BioCommons and RSpace.

A picture of the BioFAIR workshop at the All Hands 2024

In the area of international collaboration, the team at the University of Oxford had a strong presence, highlighted by Dr Allyson Lister, who co-led a workshop on “Strengthening ELIXIR Nodes, Platforms, and Communities using the Global Open Research Commons International Model.” Meanwhile, Prof Susanna-Assunta Sansone participated in a panel discussion about ELIXIR’s impact through international partnerships, emphasising the importance of building connections and collaborations on a global scale.

AI and text mining

Dr Val Wood at the AHM discussing AI in biocuration
Dr Val Wood talking about AI in biocuration

Artificial intelligence and text mining were prominently featured. Dr Valerie Wood, University of Cambridge, presented “Supporting biocuration with AI and LLMs,” unveiling what curators need in this evolving landscape, while Dr Tim Beck, University of Nottingham,  led a workshop on “Text mining to support systematic literature reviews,” discussing scalable curation.

Dr Barbara Szomolay, Cardiff University,  and Prof Krzysztof Poterlowicz, University of Bradford, also led a workshop on “Paving the way towards the effective use of generative AI for ELIXIR.” It included insights from invited speakers from AstraZeneca, University of Mannheim and West Virginia University on using ChatGPT and AI for drug development, bioinformatics, educational content, and dataset assessment. 

Data Integration and interoperability

Data integration and interoperability were key themes, with Dr Nick Juty, University of Manchester, and Prof Susanna-Assunta Sansone, University of Oxford, leading sessions on the future of data integrations and interoperability for multiomics. In the workshop titled  “The future of data integration – shaping ELIXIR’s Interoperability Platform with real-world use cases”, co-led by Nick,  over 80 participants made significant strides towards the new ELIXIR programme. They aimed to provide practical FAIRification for ELIXIR Communities.

The workshop concluded with an exciting announcement: the first face-to-face event where communities and researchers can engage with interoperability platform activities will be held at ECCB as part of the ELIXIR track. This event, titled “Practical and pragmatic FAIRification targeting ELIXIR Communities,” invites any Community to participate in FAIRification efforts.

Crucially, the workshop not only focused on onboarding Communities for interoperability tasks but also established connections with other key areas of ELIXIR. Research Data Management (RDM) community. Cross-collaboration with RDM and training activities within ELIXIR will be instrumental in scaling up in the long term. 

Single omics, Galaxy and environmental impact

Dr Wendi Bacon, The Open University, excelled at the workshop she led on “Tackling single-cell data management and interoperability in Galaxy.” The workshop discussed challenges in data management, using public data, and getting trainees to analyse their own data. This work connects with the Galaxy Single-cell and Spatial Omics community, where anyone is invited to get involved.  

Also on Galaxy, Dr Nicola Soranzo co-led a workshop titled “Where is the Dark Matter? The Galaxy Community shedding light on activities, connections, scope and unaddressed shortcomings” featuring world café discussions on RDM, computational workflows, and training.

Training and education

In the realm of training and education, ELIXIR-UK had a strong representation.  Dr Alexia Cardona discussed “Training standards and best practices for Open Science and Open Education,” and led two roundtable discussions on learning pathways and standardising training material formats. Prof Krzysztof Poterlowicz addressed the consolidation of the ELIXIR Train-the-Trainer programme and, alongside Dr Barbara Szomolay, led a roundtable on leveraging large language models for training.

ELIXIR Training eSupport System (TeSS), one of the UK Node’s flagship services, also took centre stage. Dr Munazah Andrabi, University of Manchester, led a roundtable discussion on TeSS, while Prof Carole Goble, University of Manchester,  spoke in the plenary room on federated service delivery to emphasise the importance of TeSS for ELIXIR members and the wider life sciences community.

Carole Goble at the All Hands meeting of ELIXIR in 2024
Prof Carole Goble (left) with the ELIXIR Belgium Head of Node, Frederik Coppens (right)

Diversity and inclusion

Aaliyah Providence and Yuk Chiu Ku from the Earlham Institute at the ELIXIR All Hands 2024
Yuk Chiu Ku (left) and Aaliyah Providence (right), from the Earlham Institute, during the plenary session

The UK Node addressed diversity and inclusion through a workshop co-led by Karega Pauline from OLS. Titled “Using ally skills to create teams that are more diverse, more inclusive, and feel safer in ELIXIR,” this session introduced attendees to ally skills to address the growing need for safer collaborative environments in the expanding ELIXIR network.

Deep dive into hCNV, ELIXIR Cloud and TREs

Diving deep into specific scientific areas, Krzysztof Poterlowicz, as co-lead of the hCNV Community, orchestrated the session on “Bridging Communities Through hCNV: Annotation Standards and Functional Interpretation for Human Copy Number Variant Use Cases.”

In addition, during the ELIXIR Cloud session, Dr Stian Soiland-Reyes showcased WorkflowHub cloud integrations and the GA4GH TRS API, and co-presented with Dr Tim Beck on the potential of ELIXIR cloud methods in EOSC-ENTRUST and HDR-UK.

Dr Emily Jefferson, HDR-UK,  expanded on health data and the enhancement of ELIXIR infrastructure with her presentation on “Federated analytics on clinical data across trusted research environments.”

A picture of Tim Beck and Nicola Soranzo at the 2024 ELIXIR All Hands meeting
Tim Beck (left) and Nicola Soranzo (right) discussing the sessions during a conference break

About the ELIXIR Europe All Hands

ELIXIR Europe has celebrated its All Hands Meeting every year since 2015. Each year, a Node hosts an event that welcomes all members of the pan-European community to join this annual event, build connections, reinforce existing ones, and be the conduit for future projects. All members, including prospective members and key collaborators, are invited to attend the annual event. This year, the ELIXIR Swedish Node hosted the event at the beautiful building of Uppsala University, with the prospects of a warmer set-up for 2025 in Thessaloniki, hosted by ELIXIR Greece. 

For more information about the ELIXIR All Hands meeting, visit the ELIXIR Europe news release

Pictures from Mikael Wallerstedt, owned by ELIXIR Europe.

The official picture of all participants at the 2024 ELIXIR All Hands
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