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Review of data-intensive bioscience

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With the ongoing development of transformative technologies such as next-generation sequencing and high-resolution imaging, the volume and complexity of biological data is growing. Bioscience researchers are now regularly employing computationally-dependent analysis and modelling approaches to process data ‘at scale’ that is advancing the frontiers of discovery, but there remain significant challenges to undertaking this new mode of bioscience research.

The Forward Look for UK Bioscience developed by UKRI-BBSRC recognises the importance of data-intensive bioscience research. To support the continued development of bioscience as a data-intensive discipline, UKRI-BBSRC is conducting a review in 2019.

The aims of the review are:

  • to strengthen BBSRC’s understanding of the research landscape in this area
  • to identify current issues and future needs within the UK research community
  • to ensure BBSRC is well positioned to support future requirements.


Building on ongoing work in BBSRC and insights from the UKRI Research and Innovation Infrastructure Road Map, this review will cover a range of interrelated issues.

  • Research: Bioscience involving computationally-intensive analysis of large scale and/or complex data. In particular, we expect the review to consider:
    • Research that is primarily focused on generating new biological insight through large scale data analysis and integration
    • Innovation in data intensive bioscience through the development of new approaches methods and software
  • Skills: The specific skill sets (computational/ mathematical/ statistical) required to undertake research involving complex datasets
  • Resources: The databases, software and computational infrastructure needed to support data processing, analysis, modelling and sharing


The review will draw on three main sources of input: a community questionnaire, two community workshops, and an expert working group with representation from the wider research and innovation community.

The questionnaire aims to collate the views of the community and provides an early-stage opportunity for input from across the biosciences community. These results and ideas will then be used to inform discussions at the workshops anticipated for August/September, where issues and potential routes forward will be explored in greater depth (further information to follow). Throughout the process, the working group will provide oversight and guidance and it will be responsible for developing key conclusions and recommendations to BBSRC’s Council.

Recommendations from the review will help inform BBSRC’s future strategy and approach to supporting data intensive bioscience. A final report will be published on BBSRC’s website.


The questionnaire comprises 20 questions. Responses from individuals, departments, HEIs, scientific societies, industry and other relevant BBSRC stakeholders are welcomed. A full list of the questions in a Word document is available in the 'downloads' section to aid in preparing a response prior to completing the online form.

The questionnaire can be accessed via Key Survey: Data Intensive Bioscience Questionnaire (read our Terms of use: Key Survey). The deadline for responses is 1 July 2019.

All information submitted to BBSRC will be treated in confidence. Non-attributable comments from the questionnaire may be used during the process of the review as part of subsequent activities, for example provided to the Expert Working Group leading the review or used at planned community workshops.


Horizon Scanning Team