Parallel Session 3 - Clinical Trials, Biomedical Sciences, Earth Monitoring and Biodiversity, and Social Sciences and Humanities.
3.1 User needs for clinical research:
clinical trials, imaging and emerging diseases.
There is a whole universe
which is virtually unknown and lies within each of us. From the tiniest virus,
capable of decimating entire populations, to the normal functions of the human
body, clinical research is continuously facing formidable challenges, with very
real consequences for citizens' health and well-being. It is a challenge to
which European clinical researchers respond with excellence, based on infrastructures
that are a lot more than laboratories in hospitals. Modern imaging techniques
allow not only an early diagnosis of diseases and therefore a better chance
for survival, they also help to monitor functions in a non-invasive way and
start for example connecting cognitive patterns with brain functions. High level
safety laboratories not only allow studies of highly contagious diseases, but
are also needed to face the increasing risks of bioterrorism.
This session will outline what is being done and what still remains to be done, to make sure that the latest technology is available to researchers to enable them to unravel the mysteries of the universe within.
Chair: Prof Jan Marek
and the future FP7 : from research laboratories to clinical research facilities
Dr. Christian Brechot
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A new support policy for research infrastructures is being put in place for FP7. One of the objectives should be the support for advanced research services in the areas of biological and medical sciences (BMS). In France, since 2001, an inter-institutional support network has made an important contribution in providing a map of the various technical centres, facilities and research platforms in the BMS area. At EU level, a specific working group of ESFRI has recently been launched with the task to draw up an inventory of RIs of pan-European interest that need large upgrades, or that are missing. Inserm and its partners have drawn up a list of RIs that could be supported. Among them, the European Clinical Research Infrastructures Network (ECRIN) is expected to become a reference for organising high quality and standardised clinical trials in Europe, within the frame of the Technology platform "Innovative Medicines". In addition to fully cover all translational research in the BMS domain, including applications in the healthcare domain, specific infrastructures, such as high-security facilities dedicated to the study of emerging high-risk and bioterrorism agents as well as organised and highly qualified biobanks or biological resources centres, should be considered as European priorities.
The European Centre
for Training and Research on Imported and Highly Contagious Diseases
Dr. Stephan Günther
Head of the Virology Department, Bernhard Nocht Institute
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To ensure that the European Union is able to respond appropriately to possible misuse of biological agents or outbreaks of rare, but deadly tropical diseases, there is a need to provide secure and safe laboratories with associated research competencies to develop and maintain expertise in this field. The Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine (BNI) in Hamburg is an internationally recognised centre of such expertise and is host to one of only six bio-safety level 4 labs (BSL 4) in the EU. The BNI has received planning permission for a 5000 m2 building extension to house BSL 4 and BSL 3 laboratories and a remodelled treatment centre for viral hemorrhagic fevers, thereby creating an interdisciplinary research centre environment unique in Europe. The project described in this session, EUTRICOD, is to be financed by the German authorities and the EC.
The need for human neuro-imaging
Prof. Richard Frackowiak
Wellcome Department of imaging Neuroscience, University College London
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Modern neuro-imaging tries
to describe the functional organization of the human brain at the level of large
neuronal groupings, networks and systems. Magnetic resonance imaging and magneto-encephalography
are now the structural and functional imaging modalities of choice in imaging
neuroscience. Recent advances in image based anatomy provide an unparalleled
ability to examine clinical-functional-anatomical correlates. Even more recently
these imaging methods have allowed scientists to bridge directly from the genome
to the physiology and structure of the brain. Structural and functional brain
maps must now be viewed as dynamic, changing with development, ageing, normal
learning and with recovery of function after injury. Europe is strong in this
area of science with a number of outstanding laboratories that are generating
high class data in the world literature.
3.2 User needs in biomedical sciences:
the case of bioinformatics, biobanks and the genome.
Biomolecular methodologies become key to medicine and war against disease. Although European biomedical research has enormous potential, investment into these methodologies often lag behind the USA and Asia. In a field where new discoveries often lead to new treatments and new drugs with patents and industrial interests, it is important to continuously invest in new research infrastructures. In this session the issues related to infrastructures for bioinformatics, biobanks and genomic resources are discussed. Genotyping and large scale biobanks are central to disease gene identification. Facilities for structural biology are then essential for understanding biomolecule functions and for designing drugs. Finally, the collection, organisation and distribution of the biomolecular data is of paramount importance. Sustained cutting-edge research infrastructures in these fields will be critical for health of the European population.
Chair: Prof. Jose
Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas (CSIC), Spain.
infrastructure for research
Dr. Graham Cameron
Associate Director European Bio-informatics Institute
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The wealth of biomolecular information which science has amassed will be described, and its sources, some of its applications, its value to science, the expertise and resources necessary to create and maintain the shared databases and tools necessary for leading edge European Research will be explained. This will be based on our experiences at the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI) which is part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL). This will be cast in a broader context which includes bioinformatics research throughout Europe and the world; the connections from biomolecular information to the biology of cells, organs, organisms and populations; the global relationships with similar operation elsewhere, particularly in the USA and Japan. This will underline the central and growing importance of information infrastructure for life science research, and argue that its costs, though significant, look modest when compared with the science whose findings they capture and the science whose needs they support.
The needs of researchers
for Biological NMR
Dr. Lucia Banci
Centro Risonanze Magnetiche (CERM) University of Florence, Italy
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The genomic revolution
prompted the need for characterizing the products of the human genome and of
an ever increasing number of organisms. The knowledge of their structure is
a fundamental and necessary step for understanding their function. Within this
framework, the Life Sciences community must address a series of issues in which
NMR can play an essential and unique role. NMR can provide not only static pictures
of the genome products, but also their dynamic properties over a large range
of time scales. More importantly, it can characterize protein-protein interactions
which, when weak, cannot be studied with any other technique at the atomic level.
NMR is also particularly suitable for the study of proteins which are naturally
not structured and of large protein aggregates. Finally, the impact of NMR in
metabonomics is growing steadily. To address successfully these scientific challenges
Research Infrastructures focused in these areas are badly needed.
Biobanks and genomic
resources in Europe will be our advantage in dissecting the complex disease
and drug response
Dr. Jaanus Pikani
IMCB/Estonian Biocentre, University of Tartu and Estonian Genome Project Foundation
View Presentation pdf ( 255kB) (left click to view / right click to download)
Medicine in Europe is being
transformed by advances in genomics, leading to major improvements in drug response,
disease diagnosis, prevention and therapeutic strategies. Identification of
disease genes and their relationship with the clinical course of the disease,
the environmental factors and the lifestyle is a prerequisite for this transformation.
Genotyping and large scale biobanks are the two key methodologies. Through its
unmatched clinical and epidemiological collections - biobanks, and the relative
stability of its populations, Europe has the potential to lead the effort in
the identification of human disease genes worldwide. A distributed European
Genotyping Infrastructure (EGI) is therefore urgently needed. Federating recent
national efforts and adding additional EU support will substantially increase
the overall capacity for genetic studies, and will allow projects otherwise
3.3 User needs in environment:
the case of Earth monitoring including global climate change and biodiversity.
Earth monitoring requires
the most unique set of infrastructures on the ground, in the oceans, airborne
and in orbit, barely adequate for the formidable tasks facing the field. The
importance of Earth monitoring is reflected for instance by the intensity of
the discussions on global climate change occurring at different levels, from
that of the ordinary citizen to the highest political sphere. But Earth monitoring
is not only aircraft, satellite and ships. A very important task is carried
out by collections in natural history museums, true repositories of biodiversity
on our planet and of the influence of the environment on the evolution of the
species from the earliest times until now. Monitoring for instance the evolution
of invertebrates in time and space is essential to make sure our ecosystem is
What are then the challenges facing the users of these infrastructures? Are the existing RIs adequate? If not, what more is needed? These are only a few issues that will be discussed in this session.
Chair: Dr Eeva Ikonen,
Academy of Finland
Global Change and the
Earth System - Infrastructure for Earth System Research
Dr. Jochem Marotzke
Director, Max Planck Institute for Meteorology, Hamburg, Germany
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Earth system research is the science underpinning our efforts to observe, monitor, analyse, understand, and predict global change, in order to better manage the Earth system. The presentation will first briefly help to characterise some of the challenges in this endeavour, and will then discuss the major infrastructure needs: Aircraft, spacecraft, ships, and in-situ observatories all are required for collecting the necessary observations. The synthesis of these measurements and the consequent conversion into predictive capabilities require enormous computational resources, both in terms of hardware and software. The work in this session should help discussing the resulting challenges facing, in particular, the European community.
OASIS: the eye from
space for science
Dr. Hervé Jeanjean
Centre National d'Études Spatiales (CNES), France
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With the enlargement of
the European Union, the remote sensing sector is facing a new dimension in terms
of research needs: access to space and ground segments, access to data, products
and services, integration of research capabilities and extension of GMES services
(Global Monitoring for Environment and Security) to the new territories. The
SPOT Earth observation programme, led by France in cooperation with Sweden and
Belgium, started in 1986 and is the only European system able to offer relevant
information on the environment state and evolution in the world for a significant
period of time. The purpose of OASIS (Optimising Access to Spot Infrastructure
for Science) is to optimise the access to the SPOT infrastructure for facilitating
the European scientific research in remote sensing. It is intended to provide
a free access for the European scientific communities, particularly from the
new Member States and Associate countries.
Telescopes through time:
natural history collections as models of Earth's biodiversity
Dr. Vanessa Pike
Head, Research and Consulting Office, The Natural History Museum, London, UK
View Presentation pdf ( 135kB) (left click to view / right click to download)
Many of Europe's natural history collections actually represent a physical database of Earth's biodiversity through time and in space. Natural history collections are real research infrastructures! This presentation is exploring uses of such collections by Europe's research communities, which encompass a wide range of scientific disciplines, from medics to mining companies. Drawing on examples, the speaker will explore the range of current and future uses of the data contained within specimens. These range from bio-monitoring of climate change through species distributions, to the spread of invasive species to the encroachment of disease vectors in Europe. Future uses of collections are likely to be even more diverse, thus access to Europe's rich natural history collections is paramount for challenging a wide range of today's and tomorrow's environmental issues.
The status of ESA's
GMES space component programme
Dr. Huw Hopkins
Programme Coordinator, ESA
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European Space Agency, will also present the status of ESA's GMES Space Component Programme since the ESA Member States have now agreed on the way forward. This brief review of the programme will provide an insight into the challenges ahead and the expected benefit to society.
3.4 User needs in social sciences
and humanities, including cultural heritage.
"Social sciences and
humanities" is a few generic words describing a large range of disciplines,
some vastly different from each other, all equally important for the tissue
of European society. It may be argued that the research infrastructure needs
of the humanities and social sciences are vastly different from other scientific
fields. They may however share a distinct set of infrastructure needs centred
on resource discovery, creation, sharing, access and preservation.
In this session critical examples from sociology, linguistics and cultural heritage will explore the status of the research infrastructures in their respective areas of competence, their particular requirements, and what needs to be done in terms of infrastructures to ensure that European heritage, in whatever form, is understood and preserved for future generations.
Chair: Prof. Bjørn Hendrichsen,
Director, Norvegian Social Science Data Services, Norway.
Assessing Research Infrastructure
needs in the Social Sciences and the Humanities
Prof. Kevin Schurer
Director, UK Data Archive
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Are the research infrastructure needs of the social sciences and humanities significantly different for other main discipline areas? In addressing this issue, the presentation will also explore the extent to which it is possible to evaluate the infrastructural needs of the humanities and the infrastructural needs of the social sciences. In so doing the speaker argues that the humanities and social sciences share a distinct set of infrastructure needs centred on resource discovery, creation, sharing, access and preservation. The presentation will then go on to investigate the European Research Observatory in the Humanities and Social Sciences (EROHS) model and suggest how this theoretical model, building initially on existing infrastructures, might serve to create greater interoperability and a basis for an enhanced information environment for the European Research Area.
The European Social
Survey - a new research infrastructure
Prof. Roger Jowell
Centre for Comparative Social Surveys, City University, London, UK
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The European Social Survey started in 2001 as a biennial multi-nation survey designed to measure changing attitudes and values throughout Europe. It aims to contribute to the development of European social indicators. Its methods are unusually rigorous and all its activities and protocols are transparent and widely disseminated. Its first round dataset has already attracted 7000 users and its second round has now been deposited. The project has now received Infrastructure support under FP6 and is on the ESFRI Opportunity List for the Seventh Framework Programme. It also has EC funding for two further rounds.
- underlying technologies for RIs in the social sciences and humanities
Prof. Tamas Varadi
Linguistic Institute Hungarian Academy of Sciences
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The presentation discusses
the importance and potential of language technologies in facilitating research
infrastructure for conservation, digitization analysis and dissemination of
cultural heritage and social science results. Language is undeniably the modality
of choice in seeking access to data and conducting popular as well as professional
debates. Language technologies and related research infrastructures, far from
serving the professional concerns of linguists, present key enabling technologies
to process textual data on a scale that meets the challenges of the ever expanding
horizons of research in the fields of social sciences and cultural heritage.
for cultural heritage
Dr. Jana Kolar
Head, Institute of Cultural Heritage, Centre for preservation of library materials, National and University Library, Ljubliana, Slovenia
View Presentation pdf ( 361kB) (left click to view / right click to download)
Cultural heritage is a founding stone of our civilisation and an important factor in European economy. For years synchrotrons, lasers and neutron sources have played an important role in its preservation. However, the inherent features of cultural heritage make it unique in its analysis. It is indeed highly unlikely that the famous frescoes on the ceiling of Sistine chapel would be sent to a research lab . Instead, research equipment should be brought to the site to allow for advanced analysis. Our cultural heritage thus requires an approach, where large RIs are complemented with specific instruments to the serve the uniqueness of a non-renewable source.
Conclusions of Parallel
Prof R. Barrington
CEO, Health Research Board, Ireland
View Conclusions pdf ( 86kB) (left click to view / right click to download)