China / Innovation

Researchers aim to speed up biological databases

By Luo Wangshu ( Updated: 2015-04-26 16:17

More than 270 biocuration researchers, including world-leading experts, gathered in Beijing for the 8th International Biocuration Conference.

Hosted by the Beijing Institute of Genomics under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, the event highlighted the creation of a platform for curators and developers of biological databases to discuss their work and promote international collaboration.

"Biocuration involves the analysis, interpretation and integration of biological information into data repositories, primarily to add value by annotating and interconnecting research data and results within a common biological framework," according to the National Institute of Health in the United States.

Tan Tieniu, deputy secretary-general of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, stressed the importance of biocuration in today's science researches during opening remarks.

In the world of science, "biocuration, like a highway, helps scientists make their discovery quicker," explained Alex Bateman, chair of the International Society of Biocuration.

"For example, if a new medicine has been developed, it will be developed more quickly because they (scientists) used the 'highway' we produced for them".

A non-profit organization founded in 2008, the society promotes biocuration and provides a forum for information exchange through meetings and workshops.

Its first conference took place in California, US in 2005 and the first five were held biennially. Since 2012, with the increasing need for biocuration, conferences have been held annually. It is the first time the event has been held in China.

Bateman hopes the Beijing conference, which opened on Friday, helps break down the barrier between researchers from China and the rest of the world.

Currently, due to a lack of standard data collection system, Chinese researchers send data to international organizations, such as the National Center for Biotechnology Information in the US and European Bioinformatics Institute in Europe.

Chinese researchers realize the importance of establishing its own system to "collect big data and lead to big discovery", said Zhang Zhang, researcher from the host organization. Zhang's team has proposed founding a big data center in biology and medicine.

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