Rapid access to clinical research data allows scientists to share their findings and reduce the need to duplicate costly studies. This accelerates research and helps advance benefits to patients through the responsible sharing of genetic, phenotypic and life-style data on an unprecedented scale.

Registered researchers will be able to analyse population-scale genomic and biomolecular data with the launch of the Common Infrastructure for National Cohorts in Europe, Canada and Africa (CINECA), an international project led by EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI). A virtual cohort of data from 1.4 million individuals will be made accessible to approved researchers around the world through CINECA’s federated cloud-based network.

Two Swiss institutions are part of this ambitious international initiative: SIB and the University of Applied Sciences and Arts of Western Switzerland (HES-SO), which will be contributing with expertise in both data provision and sample management to the consortium.

"In my group, we specialise in developing innovative text mining and automated annotation techniques with a particular focus on personalised health”, says SIB’s Group Leader Patrick Ruch, one of the two Swiss co-Principal Investigators together with Douglas Teodoro (SIB). “Such know-how will be crucial in the CINECA project, to help uncover clinically relevant information from a uniquely broad and complex range of data: genomics, proteomics, physiological as well as narratives. Indeed, one of CINECA's goals is to establish harmonized information retrieval, enabling researchers and clinicians to run very complex queries, such as retrieving all the patients sharing a specific mutation, for whom tumour tissues are available from a biobank and who have a history of hyperthyroidism.”

Comprised of 18 partner organisations across three continents, CINECA is composed of data from 11 cohorts selected to provide a diverse representation of studies in rare disease, common disease and national cohorts over time.

Read the full press release on the EMBL-EBI website

Image credit: Spencer Philips, EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute