DLN is a virtual centre, run by the owner Hub-institutions NTNU, UiO and UiB together with partner institutions that own projects in DLN’s project portfolio. In total, DLN has now twelve Digital Life projects, each on the scale of 20-40 Mill. NOK.
A key feature of the research- and innovation activities in DLN is interdisciplinary collaboration. In addition, projects must have an integrated responsible research and innovation (RRI) activity. These key features give the centre a transdisciplinary approach that separates digital life projects from typical other biotechnology projects.
Education and career development in DLN is an important activity to develop scientists trained in the transdisciplinary approach. This is mediated through an exchange programme, an excellence programme and the DLN Research School. The research school is open also for PhD and younger researchers outside DLN, who wants to become a member. No obligations – only advantages! The aim is to provide a rich selection of courses/workshop to educate one generation of researchers who can collaborate more easily across disciplines, be trained in innovation and entrepreneurship and in RRI.
Digital Life Project at UiB
One of the research projects in DLN is coordinated from UiB, lead by Prof. Anders Goksøyr at the Department of Biology. In the project “dCod 1.0: Decoding the Systems Toxicology of Atlantic Cod”, researchers from different fields of biology work together with bioinformaticians and mathematicians to understand the relationship between exposure to different types of environmental pollution and biological changes in cod. This is important as cod is one of our major renewable marine resources. In addition, it can also make the cod even more useful as an “indicator species” about the pollution status of our marine environment. Read more about the project here.
Activity in the network project
As one of the owner institutions, UiB is active in the hub of DLN as part of the network project. It consists of various working groups responsible for activities that support the Centre’s objectives by working across research projects and with external scientific and innovation environments.
UiB is leading the work group for Competence and Infrastructure Networks, with Prof. Inge Jonassen as leader and Rune Kleppe as coordinator. In addition, Fatemeh Z. Ghavidel (post doc.) has some of her activities focused in the work group. The main objective is to support the development of transdisciplinary biotechnology – particularly the digital aspects of it. By making application of computational methods, modelling and engineering of and on biological systems more easily integrated and applied within DLN but also outside DLN. Our activities are mainly in the interface between projects in DLN and with relevant external national and international environments. One important aspect of this work is to facilitate the development of solutions for data management.
Data management in DLN
The maintenance, access and documentation of scientific data, methods, and models based on this, are important. This is of particular importance for transdisciplinary digital biotechnology, to improve transparency and trust. We work with problems linked to scientific data – how these can be shared, documented and analysed in projects and later made available to other scientific environments. We specifically support data management that follows the so-called FAIR principle – Findable, Accessible, Interoperable and Reusable. In this work, we collaborate with ELIXIR Norway (European Infrastructure (ESFRI) for Bioinformatics), which has developed the NeLS (Norwegian eInfrastructure for Life Sciences) platform for Norwegian users, and the European association FAIRDOM (www.fair-dom.org), that develops and runs the SEEK platform. FAIRDOM, as the name indicates, works to support the FAIR Principle for scientific Data, Operating procedures (Protocols / Methods) and Models (mathematical models). In addition to organize training in data management we are now supporting an integration work to link these two platforms, which will make data management easier for several DLN projects, but also for NeLS and SEEK users outside of DLN.
Cross-disciplinary research has several challenges. The work group organize a number of activities to support this and to stimulate the exchange of expertise and experience between researchers both inside and outside DLN. One part of the activity is in the form of courses, workshops and meetings (see more info on the DLN web).
One of our workshops this year was focused on “foundational problems of modelling living systems” and was organized in collaboration with Prof. Roger Strand. He is a key resource on RRI in DLN, both in the networking project and in the RRI project Res Publica.
Save the date – DigitalLife 2018 will be in Bergen, 20-21. March!
Photo from Flickr, by Mariusz Kluzniak