Area of investment and support

Area of investment and support: European life science infrastructure for biological information

European life science infrastructure for biological information (ELIXIR) is an inter-governmental organisation building on existing data resources and services within Europe. ELIXIR-UK represents UK strengths in bioinformatics.

Partners involved:
Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), Medical Research Council (MRC), Natural Environment Research Council (NERC)

The scope and what we're doing

In 2006 the European Strategy Forum on Research Infrastructures (ESFRI), a body set up by 33 countries at the initiative of the European Council, identified 35 pan-European research infrastructures that are of key importance for the development of science and innovation.

The ELIXIR project launched its preparatory phase project in November 2007, funded by the European Commission under the FP7 capacities programme, and included representatives of 32 organisations in 13 countries.

On 18 December 2013, ELIXIR entered its permanent phase with five countries and the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) ratifying the ELIXIR Consortium Agreement (ECA).

BBSRC signed the ECA on behalf of the UK, and the UK membership of ELIXIR is paid for by contributions from BBSRC, MRC and NERC.

The UK has scientific representation on the ELIXIR Board, and Dr Mark Palmer (MRC) and Dr Amanda Collis (BBSRC) represent the funding agencies.

ELIXIR is an inter-governmental organisation, which builds on existing data resources and services within Europe. It follows a hub-and-spoke model, with a single UK Hub located in a new building alongside EMBL-EBI in Hinxton, Cambridge, and a growing number of nodes located at centres of excellence throughout Europe.

Governments and ministries of countries are members of the ELIXIR consortium, and the scientific community in each member country develops their national node.

Find out more information regarding the ELIXIR Board and the current ELIXIR membership and nodes on the ELIXIR website.


The ELIXIR-UK node is led by joint Heads of Node: Professor Carole Goble at the University of Manchester, and Professor Neil Hall at the Earlham Institute. It is coordinated from the Earlham Institute.

ELIXIR-UK represents UK strengths in bioinformatics within ELIXIR and provides a route for UK bioinformatics resources to participate in, and benefit from, ELIXIR. The node is supported through two joint awards from BBSRC, MRC, and NERC:

  • a £1.3 million award to the University of Edinburgh, University of Birmingham, University of Manchester, Earlham Institute, and the European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL EBI) to support the establishment of its training coordination role
  • a £752,000 award to the Earlham Institute to support the node’s coordination office activities.

ELIXIR-UK focuses on six strategic areas:

  • training
  • agri-data
  • human health and disease
  • expression atlases
  • protein structure and function
  • interoperability and standards.

Find out more about the ELIXIR-UK node and ELIXIR-UK on the ELIXIR website.

Why we're doing it

The goal of ELIXIR is to orchestrate the collection, quality control and archiving of large amounts of biological data produced by life science experiments. Some of these datasets are highly specialised and would previously only have been available to researchers within the country in which they were generated.

It also aims to improve the long-term sustainability of biological datasets.

An important role for ELIXIR-UK is as a nucleation point for UK bioinformatics and life science data infrastructure to interface with the wider ELIXIR community by:

  • encouraging wider participation, including frequent assessment of potential new resources and services that are well established in the UK community and are ready to contribute to ELIXIR
  • developing a programme of outreach to further engage the UK community in ELIXIR’s activities.

Find out more about ELIXIR-UK on the ELIXIR website.

Who to contact

Michael Ball

Telephone: 01793 413282

Governance, management and panels

Last updated: 17 October 2022

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