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ELIXIR – European life science infrastructure for biological information


The goal of ELIXIR is to orchestrate the collection, quality control and archiving of large amounts of biological data produced by life science experiments. Some of these datasets are highly specialised and would previously only have been available to researchers within the country in which they were generated. It also has an aim to improve the long-term sustainability of biological datasets.


In 2006 ESFRI, a body set up by 33 countries at the initiative of the European Council, identified 35 pan-European research infrastructures that are of key importance for the development of science and innovation. The ELIXIR project launched its preparatory phase project in November 2007, funded by the European Commission under the FP7 capacities programme, and included representatives of 32 organisations in 13 countries. On 18 December 2013, ELIXIR entered its permanent phase with five countries and EMBL ratifying the ELIXIR Consortium Agreement (ECA).

BBSRC signed the ECA on behalf of the UK, and the UK membership of ELIXIR is paid for by contributions from BBSRC, MRC and NERC.

UK representation on the ELIXIR Board is through Professor Chris Rawlings (Rothamsted Research) as the Scientific Delegate; with Dr Mark Palmer (MRC) and Dr Amanda Collis (BBSRC) representing the funding agencies.

More information regarding current ELIXIR membership can be found on the ELIXIR website: ELIXIR structure


ELIXIR is an inter-governmental organisation, which builds on existing data resources and services within Europe. It follows a hub-and-nodes model, with a single Hub located in a new building alongside EMBL-EBI in Hinxton, Cambridge, UK and a growing number of nodes located at centres of excellence throughout Europe.

Governments and ministries of countries are members of the ELIXIR consortium, and the scientific community in each member country develops their national node.

More detail regarding ELIXIR Hub and nodes can be found on the ELIXIR website: ELIXIR Hub


The ELIXIR-UK node (see external links) is led by Prof Carole Goble (Head of Node) at The University of Manchester, Dr Gabriella Rustici (Deputy Head of Node) at University of Cambridge and Dr John Hancock (Node Coordinator) at the Earlham Institute. It is coordinated from the Earlham Institute.

ELIXIR-UK represents UK strengths in bioinformatics within ELIXIR and provides a route for UK bioinformatics resources to participate in, and benefit from, ELIXIR. The node is supported through two joint awards from BBSRC, MRC, and NERC:

  • a £1.3M award to The University of Edinburgh, University of Birmingham, The University of Manchester, Earlham Institute, and EMBL EBI to support the establishment of its training coordination role, and
  • a £752k award to the Earlham Institute to support the Node’s coordination office activities

ELIXIR-UK focuses on six strategic areas:

  • Training
  • Agri-data
  • Human health and disease
  • Expression atlases
  • Protein structure and function
  • Interoperability and standards

An important role for ELIXIR-UK is as a nucleation point for UK bioinformatics and life science data infrastructure to interface with the wider ELIXIR community by:

  • Encouraging wider participation, including frequent assessment of potential new resources and services that are well established in the UK community and are ready to contribute to ELIXIR
  • Developing a programme of outreach to further engage the UK community in ELIXIR’s activities