The Genomic Data Infrastructure project launches

The European Genomic Data Infrastructure (GDI) project launched in Brussels on Thursday 17 November. The new €40 million project, coordinated by ELIXIR, is jointly funded by the European Commission under the Digital Europe Programme, and through co-funding from participating Member States.

The aim of the GDI project is to realise the 1+MG initiative’s ambition of creating a data infrastructure that will enable secure access to genomics and corresponding clinical data across Europe.

The project involves a consortium of partners from 20 European countries. It will facilitate a cross-border federated network of national genome collections for biomedical research and personalised medicine.

Building on current initiatives

The 1+MG initiative was signed in 2018 and aims to enable secure access to genomics and corresponding clinical data across Europe. This will lead to better research, personalised healthcare and health policymaking.

The Beyond 1 Million Genomes (B1MG) project started in 2020 and is funded by H2020. It is developing guidelines for implementing the 1+MG Initiative and creating blueprints and recommendations for creating federated networks of genomic data.

Building on the preparatory work of 1+MG working groups and the B1MG project, the GDI project brings 20 EU Member States together with two infrastructure organisations (BBMRI and EMBL). The project partners will work collectively to support the 1+MG Initiative's vision to facilitate better healthcare for citizens in Europe. This will be achieved by providing cross-border access to at least one million genomes and related clinical data.

How the project is organised

As a critical component of Europe's ambition to lead the integration of genomics into healthcare, the GDI project will make data accessible for research, clinical reference and policy development uses through three pillars of work, supported by a coordination work package.

Coordination and support

The coordination and support work package coordinates the project, supports the consortium and the 1+MG initiative, monitors progress and liaises with other European and global initiatives.

Pillar I

Long-term sustainability

Pillar I brings together country representatives to agree on a long-term governance model, a legal framework and a business model for the infrastructure. These will ensure the infrastructure continues to operate after the end of the GDI project.

Pillar II

Infrastructure deployment

Pillar II implements the infrastructure by increasing the interoperability of European data resources. It ensures these resources can operate as part of the 1+MG infrastructure and are ready to access once the required agreements are in place. “Real” synthetic data will be used to demonstrate and validate the infrastructure, and data provided from EU projects under their current agreements.

Pillar III

Use cases

Pillar III guides the implementation of the project through key use cases (for example, the Genome of Europe, cancer data and infectious disease data). It works with users like clinicians, researchers and innovators to identify solutions that could form part of the infrastructure.

Benefits of the project

The GDI project aims to unlock a data network of over one million genome sequences for research and clinical reference. This will create unprecedented opportunities for transnational and multi-stakeholder actions in personalised medicine for common, rare and infectious diseases.

Authorised data users, such as clinicians, researchers and innovators, will be able to advance understanding of genomics for more precise and faster clinical decision-making, diagnostics, treatments and predictive medicine. Access to the data will also lead to improved public health measures that will benefit European citizens, healthcare systems and the overall economy.

Serena Scollen, the GDI Project Coordinator and Head of ELIXIR Human Genomics and Translational Data team, spoke of the importance of having an infrastructure for genomic data:

"Genomes will soon be generated more routinely as part of healthcare. To realise the full promise of genomics and its implementation into healthcare, it is critical to facilitate research and innovation and integrate findings into the clinic and healthcare.

"One of the biggest challenges we face is the lack of infrastructure - needed to support the discovery, access, sharing and analysis of human genomics data on a massive scale. By working together, countries will be able to deploy infrastructure to facilitate secure cross-border data access."

GDI is an exciting project that will deploy sustainable and secure cross-border linkage of and access to a multitude of genomic and related phenotypic, clinical and other datasets across Europe. Coordinated by ELIXIR, the project will be the driving force to create a data space for genomics data to implement the 1+MG initiative and benefit European citizens.

Posted: 17 November 2022