The DEANN project is a network formation initiative that involves eight research institutions and universities from five EU countries (United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain, France and Italy) and equivalently, eight research entities from five Latin American countries (Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, Chile and the United States). The overall goal of this initiative is to strengthen research partnership among project participants by developing a shared scientific knowhow in the field of Next Generation Sequencing data analysis. This will lead to increase in the scientific competence of consortium members at the international level. More specifically, the objectives of the project are:
- To reinforce the collaboration among partner organizations, both between EU and American partners and within EU partners, with the aim of developing long-term research partnerships.
- To nurse the scientific excellence of the project participants in the field of NGS data analysis, with the aim of improving their position and competitiveness at the international level.
- To elevate the critical mass and innovation skills of the consortium to act at the forefront of innovative proposals around the usage of NGS-based technologies addressing biomedical and biotechnology problems.
- To increase the competence of the project partners in applied genomics research with the aim of reaching translational opportunities in established and emerging economies.
- To improve education, innovation and international orientation of PhD candidates and post-docs.
The DEANN initiative achieves these objectives by creating a network of carefully chosen bioinformatics research labs and putting them to work together in an exchange, training and transference program that specifically serves the goals of the project. The consortium members collectively represent a diversity of expertise domains (Biomedicine, biotechnology and bioinformatics), strategic regional positioning, strong international presence, comprehensive training capability and long-term projection. The DEANN exchange program counts with WPs in the most trendy and translational topics of Next Generation Sequencing and purposely includes movement of management staff and intensive training modules both on scientific and translational skills.
Overall description of the exchange scheme and the planned scientific activities
The DEANN project achieves its goals through the establishment of a shared research framework (this section), a schedule of scientific exchanges and a programme of training activities.
Under the general theme of developing bioinformatics pipelines for the processing of NGS data, the project has envisaged seven Work Packages , each addressing a different aspect of the applicability of these technologies. These WPs are identified both from the relevance of NGS in current genome research and from the specific expertise and areas of interest of the involved partners. According to the philosophy of Marie Curie actions, a bottom-up approach has been adopted for the definition of the topics and the specific tasks of the projects. The exchange program does not intend to start new research lines or address additional scientific challenges. Rather, current research projects at partner institutions feed the scientific content of the different WPs and tasks arise from the commonalities in research topics of interest. Through the planned scheme of scientific visits these projects are carried out in cooperation with the hosting institutions. This offers an invaluable opportunity to improve the quality of the work thanks to the incorporation of additional views and the particular expertise’s of the collaborating labs, and at the same time, is the vehicle to create scientific and personal links, and to build a shared know-how.
The DEANN project is structured around seven WPs. The first WP deals with coordination and management of the project. WPs 2 to 6 are defined as thematic blocks that are transversal to many genome research fields and where bioinformatics challenges are similar to different labs working indifferent bioinformatics areas. For example, WP2 deals withgenome variation analysis by next generation sequencing addressing common problems in the identification of genome variants across populations that can be associated to particular phenotypes. Such type of analysis is at the center of genome diversity studies, exome analysis projects or the NGS-based genetic marker discovery for plant breeding purposes of commercial crops. By allowing scientific visits between partners working in these different topics, we promote a true exchange of know-how and incorporate different views around a common problem that will enrich the scientific competence of the researchers involved. Moreover, WP2 to 4 cover algorithmic aspects of NGS data processing ranging to DNA variation issues (WP2) to quantitative applications of short-reads (WP3) and integration of different NGS data types (WP3). The next two Work Packages deal with the development of computational architectures for the efficient management of large volumes of data derived from NGS projects. Finally, WP7 is a particular WP dedicated to the exchange of knowledge in technology transfer issues and the analysis of new translational opportunities. This aspect is of ultimate relevance in a situation where economic growth needs to gain every day more funding in science and innovation, and where research opportunities are part of a global market.