One of the strengths of the UBC’s research is that we combine a thorough understanding of computational methods with an in-depth expertise in the domain of application. Since the big data revolution affects virtually all research domains, Utrecht University has recently initiated the new focus area Applied Data Science. How do we see the role of bioinformaticians in these developments?
Data Science oriented partnership
Bioinformaticians are the data scientists for the Life Sciences, with a special focus on molecular data such as DNA sequences, protein structures and regulatory networks. As such, bioinformaticians are indispensable in the process of translating biological questions into advanced data analytics problems and establishing solutions, as well as in building strong partnerships.
- We are an important partner for ITS in issues pertaining to ICT and Life Sciences, such as our High Performance Computing facility.
- We operate several bioinformatics expertise cores, where researchers requiring computational expertise can collaborate on research questions for which off-the-shelf solutions are available.
- We are also reinforcing our local and national connections, for example through the new focus area Applied Data Science and the Dutch Centre for Mathematics and Informatics (CWI).
Proposal for future Data Science strategy
The introduction of computational expertise into a wide range of scientific disciplines, along with the diversity of topics that data- and computationally driven research apply to, present an enormous challenge when it comes to organizing data science. Within Utrecht University, several organisations and research groups are currently dealing with the big data revolution. The initiation of the focus area Applied Data Science is therefore a very important, urgently needed step to strengthen Data Science at Utrecht University. We believe that this development will continue to accelerate in the near future. Since it involves several different application domains, we believe that there is potential for expanding the focus area or even creating a new strategic theme: Data and Computational Science. The Utrecht Bioinformatics Center will discuss this possibility, amongst others, in the context of the new focus area Applied Data Science and the existing focus area Foundations of Complex Systems.
Berend Snel, Patrick Kemmeren and Jeroen de Ridder