About
Know more about the project, the consortium and its work plan

Nowadays biological research heavily relies on the application of “omics” technologies. In particular, Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) methods have completely changed the face of omics technologies and their application.

NGS enables a host of omics analyses (genomics, transcriptomics, epigenomics, metagenomics, immunogenomics, etc.) at unprecedented resolution, speed, depth and at low cost compared to the previous generation of technology (the initial sequencing of the human genome that finished just 15 years ago cost in excess of 1 billion $, while NGS-based methods today do the same for around 1,000 $). This allows performing many experiments we could only dream of less than a generation ago.

However, modern omics operations require high up-front investments, highly specialized expertise, and a high degree of integration of different elements, such as elaborate experimental design, laboratory techniques and automation, tracking systems, computational environments, data analysis, bioinformatics, and quality management systems.

As such it is obvious that having infrastructures that hold this expertise and that put it at the service of the research community is a preferable model over sub-critical-effort operations. Building NGS infrastructures with all the required know-how is challenging and maintaining them at the forefront is costly.

A model where hubs offer access to state-of-the-art, well-maintained facilities makes economic sense, and several European countries have taken the path of establishing a national infrastructure.

These national infrastructures are united in EASI-Genomics.

The mission of EASI-Genomics is to provide easy and seamless access to cutting-edge DNA sequencing technologies to researchers from academia and industry, within a framework that ensures compliance with ethical and legal requirements, as well as FAIR and secure data management.

EASI-Genomics team

The EASI-Genomics consortium has directly evolved from the ESGI (European Sequencing and Genotyping Infrastructure – EU FP7 2007-2013 Infrastructure Project, project number 262055). Eight ESGI partners are now members of this consortium, while another eight partners with complementary expertise have joined EASI-Genomics and can help the former joint infrastructure reaching the next level in its implementation. ESGI allowed the creation of a community that shares procedures, harmonizes methodology and exchanges experience.

In ESGI we learnt that the service offered by an infrastructure has to go beyond the mere provision of raw data. For this reason, we plan to extend the breadth of support of access projects from study design to analysed results and to a substantially larger number of users than before. Users will not just receive a service but will be included in the whole process and thus be trained in all the steps of the study. Several of the partners have been working towards this in recent years, so that we are now in a perfect position to provide such comprehensive support to access projects.

The community is in urgent need of good standards, in particular for data analysis. Another need is efficient computational frameworks for data analysis. EASI-Genomics will work on these requirements and will develop tools that can be deployed widely, so that smaller operations can be established without the need to build large computing facilities.  

By implementing its objectives, the EASI-Genomics project aims to build a community of practice which leverages advanced sequencing technologies beyond country and sector borders to tackle global challenges in science.

EASI-Genomics is user-oriented and all its objectives are aligned to provide excellent services, which precisely respond to the requirements of academia and industry. Thus, EASI-Genomics will establish a dialogue with, and promote collaboration among the different stakeholders to identify needs, existing gaps and opportunities. Especially the two sectors, academia and industry, will learn and benefit from each other throughout the project. By giving a significant number of users access to the best technologies in high-throughput genomics, EASI-Genomics will contribute to the impact that European Research and Innovation activities bring to the competitiveness and growth of its companies, and to other important benefits for its citizens (e.g. health, agriculture, biotechnology).

The main objectives of EASI-Genomics are:

  • Culture synergy between European genomics infrastructures and create a wider co-operating community between all stakeholders
  • Provide access to integrated state-of-the-art high-throughput DNA sequencing infrastructures to the European research community
  • Benchmark and harmonize NGS and data analysis methods
  • Establish standards to ensure quality, accessibility and reusability of produced data
  • Develop new and better techniques for both pre-analytical and analytical methodologies    in NGS
  • Train researchers in NGS technologies to enable them in the best use of European Research Infrastructures and to foster innovation capacity
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Consortium

Our consortium joins sixteen partners from eight different EU member states. It includes eleven of the largest genomic facilities in Europe, which will provide access to their services and develop new methods and standards. In addition, some partners are experts on ethical, legal and societal implications, data management, and/or method harmonization. The consortium also includes two industrial partners that develop relevant methods and tools, and have extensive involvement in setting standards for pre-analytical and analytical procedures.

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Management structure

EASI-Genomics consortium is coordinated by Ivo Gut (CNAG-CRG), assisted by the Project Management Team. Day-to-day follow-up and operational decisions are the tasks of the Steering Group (work-package leaders) while decisions on major changes need the approval of the General Assembly (all beneficiaries). The consortium gets expert guidance from its International Scientific Advisory Board (SAB). Transnational Access activities are coordinated by Sascha Sauer (MDC) and Ann-Christine Syvanen (Upsala U).

Ivo Gut

Coordinator


CNAG-CRG

Sascha Sauer

Access Coordinator


MDC

Ann-Christine Syvänen

Access Coordinator


Uppsala U

Piero Carninci

SAB Member


Riken (JP)

Bartha Knoppers

SAB Member


McGill University (CA)

Tony Cox

SAB Member


Sanger Institute (UK)

Nicolas Robine

SAB Member


New York Genome C (US)

Angèle Bénard

Project Manager


CNAG-CRG

Sonja Hansen

Access Project Manager


MDC

Joaquim Calbó

Project Manager


CNAG-CRG

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Work plan

EASI-Genomics objectives and activities are all oriented towards the creation of a long-lasting community of practice and the provision of excellent access to the integrated infrastructure nodes for academic and industrial users. The work plan reflects this overarching goal. As a consequence, the work plan is organized around Transnational Access, ans structured in the following eight activities:

Method development

The joint research in EASI-Genomics has the objective to augment the methods and processes that can be offered for Transnational Access.