NeCTAR signs first eResearch tool deal

The super science project has struck a deal with the University of Western Australia to create a new Cloud-based bioinformatics tool

The federal government’s National eResearch Collaboration Tools and Resources (NeCTAR) project has signed its first eResearch tool contract.

The contract, signed with the University of Western Australia (UWA), will result in the creation of a new Cloud-based 'bioinformatics' tool to improve the way researchers analyse and collect biospecimen, genotypic, pedigree, and phenotypic data.

UWA project manager, Paul White, said the tool could be a "world-first" in the open source world.

“The tool will help researchers manage participant demographics, personal information, and consent,” he said in a statement.

“We are not aware of a tool anywhere in the world with this breadth of functionality available as open source."

The project is worth $614,490 and the tool’s capabilities is expected to be integrated with the University of Queensland’s Genomic Virtual Laboratory, another NeCTAR project.

NeCTAR called on the Australian research community in September 2011 to submit project proposals to build one aspect of its four program areas: Virtual labs, eResearch tools, Research Cloud and the National Servers Program (NSP).

More than 80 project proposals across a broad range of disciplines were received in November 2011, with a panel that consisted of research experts nominated by the Australian research community evaluating each proposal in December 2011. One third of the submitted proposals, worth $23 million, were chosen by the group to receive funding by NeCTAR.

Successful proposals were announced in mid-January 2012, including the ‘Virtual Geophysics Laboratory’ by the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, ‘Climate and Weather Science Laboratory’ by the Bureau of Meteorology, and ‘Federated Archaeological Information Management System’ by the University of NSW.

The projects are expected to be completed by December 2013.

NeCTAR will open stage two of its project proposals on 30 April 2012, with submissions to focus on the organisation’s virtual labs and research Cloud.

In February 2012, NeCTAR made its collaborative Cloud platform live.

The NeCTAR Research Cloud provides researchers with instant access to scalable computational power and research applications. Access to storage will also enable them to share information across different research infrastructure and institutions on a national and international scale.

NeCTAR is a $47 million project conducted as part of the Australian government's Super Science initiative and financed through the Education Investment Fund.

Follow Diana Nguyen on Twitter: @diananguyen9

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