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SIB - Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics

SWISS BIOINFORMATICS

SIB NEWSLETTER - OCTOBER 2018

IN THIS ISSUE

SIB shares its strategic thoughts on future developments through a series of articles, and with two videos, the Institute puts the Swiss Bioinformatics community in the spotlight and casts a look back on its evolution over 20 years. 
Also in this October edition: a genome under influence, the secret of elephants’ skin; cracking the dark matter of bacterial genomes and a crowdfunding campaign to convert a popular science blog about proteins into a book!

TAKING THE PULSE OF SIB

Some strategic thoughts about SIB’s development

Where will SIB be adding value in the years to come? Which are the fields where SIB’s expertise will be needed the most? Following the directions set out in SIB's Roadmap, a series of articles focus on some themes of interest for the future, starting with developments on the data security and health sector front, as well as leveraging the Institute’s biocuration expertise for health-related projects. Stay tuned for our next articles on this topic.

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SIB history and community: watch our latest videos

With the creation of SIB in 1998, Switzerland made a historical move and positioned itself as a pioneer in the field of data science: the animation ‘A brief history of SIB’ traces the Insitute’s journey since. Filmed during the SIB Days 2018, the short video ‘Swiss Bioinformatics: more than data’ invites you to meet the vibrant community of scientists dedicated to making sense out of biological data.

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"Today a manager must have many skills and is expected to be everywhere at once"

Since 22 June, Christine Durinx is jointly leading SIB with Ron Appel, and she tells us more about what such an appointment means in practice, the key ingredients needed for a successful tandem management model, and her vision for the Institute.

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FOCUS ON PERSONALIZED HEALTH

Latest news from the SPHN Data Coordination Centre

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In September, SIB’s DCC group – which is working towards establishing a network of interoperable health-related data to be made available for research in the context of the Swiss Personalized Health Network – announced progress towards achieving interoperability of scientific computing facilities. It also published a policy addressing Information Security for the SPHN, coordinated by Heinz Stockinger, SIB’s Chief Technology Officer.

Swiss Medical Newsletter: Two articles bringing personalized health closer to family doctor

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What should family doctors know about personalized health? How can they acquire appropriate training for the benefit of their patients? Find out in two articles by SIB’s Clinical Bioinformatics Group in the Swiss Medical Newsletter: "The medicine of tomorrow in the hands of today’s practitioners” (DE/FR), and an interview of Aitana Lebrand (SIB Clinical Bioinformatics) and Luca Quagliata (Senior Director Contract R&D Unit, University Hospital Basel) (DE/FR).

ESSENTIAL RESOURCES FOR THE LIFE SCIENCES

Part of SIB’s mission is to provide and maintain databases and software tools,
which are of fundamental importance to the wider life-science community.

Encouraging knowledge reuse to foster innovation

Being able to redistribute or reuse parts of scientific knowledge, such as information encoded in biological databases, is an essential driver of innovation. UniProt has adopted the Creative Commons CC BY 4.0 license to encourage the creation of derivative products…

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RESEARCH AT SIB

A genome under influence – The faulty yardstick in genomics studies and how to cope with it

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Genetic markers that have developed randomly rather than through a selective process are used in genetics as reliable "standards" for comparing different populations. However, SIB’s Fanny Pouyet and colleagues from the group of Laurent Excoffier (University of Bern) have discovered that some of these markers, previously considered "neutral", appear to lead to biased estimates...

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How the African elephant cracked its skin to cool off

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An intricate network of minuscule crevices adorns the skin surface of the African bush elephant. By retaining water and mud, these micrometer-wide channels greatly help elephants in regulating their body temperature and protecting their skin against parasites and intense solar radiation. The group of SIB's Michel Milinkovitch (UNIGE) reports in the journal Nature Communications that African elephant skin channels are...

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Cracking the ‘dark matter’ in bacterial genomes

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Bacterial genomes are a treasure trove of information, be it for the development of novel antibiotics or the protection of crops against pathogens. A study, led by the group of SIB’s Christian Ahrens at Agroscope, shows that unravelling those genomes in their entirety can be more difficult than commonly believed, due to the presence of highly complex regions in the shape of very long DNA repeats…

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Catch up on the research news from this summer

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There is no quiet time for research…This summer, SIB Groups published several important studies, covered by a story. In case you missed any, here is a digest:

PERFECT YOUR BIOINFORMATICS SKILLS WITH SIB TRAINING

Upcoming SIB Training courses

The list of courses scheduled for the next 6 months is now available online, covering topics such as: Network Analysis with Cytoscape, Ligand-protein docking and computer-aided drug design, Single-cell RNAseq, Data Management Plans... Save the dates in your calendar, subscribe to the courses' mailing-list to be informed when registrations open and share this information with your colleagues!

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A look back on the latest Virtual Seminars with two interviews

Predicting diseases, one step ahead” with Matt Robinson, SIB Group Leader at the Department of Computational Biology at the University of Lausanne, and “IPortal, taming biomedical data" with Rostyk Kuzyakiv, Data Scientist at SIB’s High Performance Computing centre and core facility S3IT on the grounds of the University of Zurich: read their interviews by SIB’s Science Writer Vivienne Baillie Gerristen.

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PROTEIN SPOTLIGHT

From a popular science blog on proteins to a book: launch of a crowdfunding campaign

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Be it the architecture of intelligence, the source of migraines or the origin of cell suicide...: proteins matter. Would you like to help us spread the word? You can do so by supporting this 1-month crowdfunding campaign to transform the 100 most acclaimed stories of our Protein Spotlight blog into a book: “THE NAKED PROTEIN”. Cast your donation and secure, among many other unique rewards, at least one book for yourself.

Latest Protein Spotlight: best left unsaid

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There are times in life when things are best left unsaid. So you bite your tongue or someone bites it for you. Either way, you are silenced and no - or less - harm is done. Nature also has its techniques for muffling genes whose products are not necessary at a given time, or that are perhaps harmful once expressed. One technique, which seems to have been with us for a very long time, is DNA methylation…

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