The Australian Bioinformatics Commons as an exemplar of international engagement in research infrastructure

Sarah Nesbit1, Andrew Lonie2

1Senior Manager: Platforms and Engagement, Bioplatforms Australia

2Australian BioCommons, University of Melbourne


As for many other disciplines, rapid advances in digital technologies and methods are proving transformational in life sciences research. Internationally, major infrastructure initiatives are increasingly defining global scale data infrastructures for the life sciences; in particular, the US-based National Institutes of Health through their Data Commons program, and the EU-based ELIXIR program. These initiatives can be compared in some ways to the global research infrastructures (Hubble, LIGO, LHC) driving astronomy and physics, and it is clear that world-class bioscience research in Australia will increasingly depend on digital methods and data resources that are globally sourced and supported.

Understanding discipline requirements and describing them in appropriate language to digital resource providers is something that some disciplines do well, and those disciplines often do correspondingly well in resourcing digital research. However, finding consensus on what digital research infrastructure to invest in at national scale, and how it relates to international initiatives, is challenging for such a large and diverse research community as life sciences. Therefore, sponsored by Bioplatforms Australia, the ARDC and AARNeT, we have developed a research infrastructure program called the Australian BioCommons that strongly engages the research community, international infrastructure initiatives, and national digital resource providers, recognising that Australia must understand, participate in and contribute to global life science-enabling endeavours as a first class partner, and presenting this as a clear vision of implementable requirements to national providers.

In this talk we discuss the Australian BioCommons, how it is informed by close engagement with, and participation in, international programs, and how we will develop the national capability we will need to provide Australian researchers with access to global research infrastructure in which we are first order contributors.


AeRO is the industry association focused on eResearch in Australasia. We play a critical coordination role for our members, who are actively transforming research via Information Technology. Organisations join AeRO to advance their own capabilities and services, to collaborate and to network with peers. AeRO believes researchers and the sector significantly benefit from greater communication, coordination and sharing among the increasingly different and evolving service providers.

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