Discover the SwissBioData ecosystem, a proposal by the SIB Swiss Institute of Bioinformatics and 13 Swiss institutions, which aims at enabling next-generation data-driven research to boost Switzerland’s capacity to convert biological and biomedical research data into knowledge and innovation. This proposal will build on one of four life science research infrastructure proposed as part of the Biology Roadmap coordinated by the Swiss Academy of Sciences (SCNAT), on a mandate by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).

About the Biology Roadmap

The roadmap represents the view of the Swiss scientific community in the field of biology, and is a formal element of the process to elaborate the Swiss Roadmap for Research Infrastructures 2023. It is a bottom-up contribution to the identification and selection of important national and international research infrastructures by the biologists themselves, on a mandate by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI).

Biology research in Switzerland: the challenges of big data

Switzerland is currently at the forefront on the level of omics techniques, with excellent wet-lab platforms, the presence of SIB, and of many local bioinformatics core facilities. However, the amount of data generated exceeds the data management and analysis capacity of the local core facilities, and the data generation and analysis pipelines are fragmented. Finally, not all biologists have straightforward access to such core facilities, depending on their location and institution. Fields that are cross-disciplinary (e.g. food science, personalized health, chemical ecology) are particularly impacted by such limitations.

The potential of the current landscape

To enable data-driven discoveries, an infrastructure that allows Swiss-wide access, integration, and analysis of large biological datasets of various types and origin, needs to be put in place. SIB already has a leading bioinformatics training and infrastructure coordination role across Switzerland (e.g. the BioMedIT network to enable personalized health research, the Swiss Pathogen Surveillance Platform which is currently acting as central hub for COVID-19 genomic sequences) and beyond, with its role in ELIXIR, the European distributed infrastructure for the life sciences.

The proposal: the SwissBioData ecosystem to unite and leverage the existing infrastructures

The SwissBioData ecosystem ambitions to provide access to state-of-the-art data management and analysis infrastructure for all Swiss researchers in biology, thereby significantly enhancing our capacity to convert research data into knowledge and innovation. How? By connecting bioinformatics and wet lab core facilities on the national scale, to make data, workflows and tools interoperable, and to create a national data cloud for artificial intelligence, allowing benchmarking and FAIRification of deep learning methods, with SIB acting as central hub. The proposal, co-led by SIB and the University of Bern, results from a bottom-up discussion with academic partners and life scientists.

How would it work?

With a focus on omics data, the SwissBioData research infrastructure would build on and connect the expertise of local nodes at Swiss research institutions (e.g. omics platforms and bioinformatics core facilities). These efforts would be coordinated and complemented by the expertise of the central hub. The latter would identify, develop, and disseminate state-of-the-art tools and workflows for biology, and enable shared efforts. Such national infrastructure would enable:

  • An increased sustainability and efficiency, by avoiding the multiplication of efforts, fostering interoperability, speeding up the nationwide adoption of new technologies and FAIR principles, etc.
  • An increased scientific quality & reproducibility, by enhancing data analysis capacity, paving the way for artificial intelligence, benchmarking and standardizing workflows and tools, fostering efficient data sharing, etc.
  • Promote a strong network for core facilities to enable new interdisciplinary projects and nationwide incentives.

The full project will be submitted in December to the Swiss National Science Fund (SNSF).


Brunner D, Durinx C, Erb M, Fischer M, Hari Y, Jazwinska A, Leeb T, Reymond C, Scheidegger C, Stieger P, Studer B, Vergères G, Walter A (2021). Biology Roadmap for Research Infrastructures 2025–2028 by the Swiss Biology Community Swiss Academies Reports 16 (2).