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Infrastructure for Systems Biology – Europe (ISBE)

Launched in September 2012, the ISBE project is funded by the European Commission under the FP7 capacities programme as a "preparatory phase project". This phase was completed at the end of July 2015. The project has now entered into its interim phase.

Visit the ISBE website


The project aims to establish the ISBE that will:

  • interconnect hubs of technological excellence in systems biology, offering the best European research expertise, and experimental and modelling facilities, necessary for systems biology
  • establish and make available repositories of data and models
  • enable real-time connections within and between components of the two aims above, and with external 'user' laboratories, through the provision of high performance connections to existing high capacity electronic network infrastructures

ISBE Business Plan (July 2015)

The project announced the publication of the first edition of its Business Plan in July 2015, which is an update of the ISBE Business Case (see below). This sets out how ISBE will be built during the interim phase (2015-2018), and the following legal phase (2018 onwards), outlining plans for:

  • the commencement of "ISBE-light" physical infrastructure in 2015
  • longer-term services and access
  • establishment of the legal and governance structure, and the legal phase financial model

The ISBE Business Plan is intended as a living document that will continue to evolve during the course of the interim phase and regular updates are planned to publically refresh this document.

ISBE Business Case (Nov 2014)

The project announced the publication of its Business Case in November 2014, which explains:

Business Case PDF (external link) on ISBE website
  • the rationale for an ISBE
  • the physical infrastructure
  • the plans for services and access
  • the legal and governance structure

It also sets out planned steps in developing a more comprehensive business plan by the end of the preparatory phase in July 2015.

ISBE has also initiated a dialogue with potential centres to be included in the infrastructure, together with their associated funding bodies, ahead of an open nomination process in 2015. This will require candidate centres to detail existing or planned financial national support, together with endorsement by both the host institution and an associated national research ministry or funding body.

Preparatory phase objectives

BBSRC led the ISBE funding, governance and legal work package (work package 11) in the preparatory phase.

In order to establish viable, long term, sustainable, funding and a legal framework, ISBE must build upon the strategic activities of European national funding agencies and engage with them in exploring opportunities for support.

The objectives of work package 11 are:

  • To document the challenges to be met to establish a pan-European infrastructure that capitalises on existing national and European funding for research and co-ordination in systems biology
  • To identify current funding mechanisms and instruments for co-ordination of resources across European ministries and funding organisations interested in ISBE, and map the scope and duration of the different funding segments of the infrastructure, to enable their effective integration and operation
  • To deliver an interim, and subsequent long-term funding and governance strategy, based on the mapping of funding segments and strategic priorities of funding organisations participating in ISBE
  • To recommend indicative funding requirements for the co-ordination and integration of the different segments of infrastructure
  • To provide a business plan and mechanisms for negotiation of International Consortium Agreement, for the subsequent construction phase of ISBE

Preparatory phase programme

ISBE was structured in 12 work packages during the preparatory phase:

  • WP1: Project Management and Co-ordination (Chair: Richard Kitney – Imperial College London, UK)
  • WP2: Model and Data Management (Chair: Carole Goble – The University of Manchester, UK)
  • WP3: Overall Infrastructure, eligibility and accessibility (Chair: Roel van Driel – Universiteit van Amsterdam, The Netherlands)
  • WP4: Data Generation BRFAA (Chair: Dimitris Thanos – Biomedical Research Foundation, Academy of Athens, Greece)
  • WP5: Community Building and Synergies (Chair: James Sharpe – Fundacio Privada Centre de Regulacio Genomica, Spain)
  • WP7: Strategy, Vision and Advocacy (Vitor Martins dos Santos – Wageningen Universiteit, The Netherlands)
  • WP8: Modelling infrastructure and expertise (Chair: Stig Omholt – Universitetet for Miljo og Biovitenskap, Norway)
  • WP9: Technology and Science Watch (Chair: Rudiger Ettrich – Centrum Vyzkumu Globalni Zmeny Av Cr Vvi, Czech Republicr)
  • WP10: Training and Education (Chair: Richard Kitney – Imperial College London, UK)
  • WP11: Funding, Governance and Legal (Chair: Gabriela Pastori – BBSRC, UK) 
  • WP13: Connections (Chair: Hans Westerhoff – Stichting VU-VUMC, The Netherlands)
  • WP15: Innovation, Impact and Exploitation (Chair: Garry Corthals – CBT, Finland)


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