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Data science poised to unlock major health discoveries in Ireland and Europe, says Insight director

Press release

6th January 2016


For immediate release


Data science poised to unlock major health discoveries in Ireland and Europe, says Insight director


Irish data research centre joins call for better biobanking infrastructure in Ireland and Europe


"A biobanking capacity in Ireland linked to a European infrastructure, underpinned by good data analytics and biomedical science, holds enormous potential for the European health research effort.”

Prof Barry O'Sullivan was speaking ahead of a seminar on data science, health research and bio-banking at UCC on January 7 2016.

The Insight Centre for Data Analytics and Europe’s bio-banking infrastructure BBMRI-ERIC are hosting a seminar entitled The Input of BioMolecular Biobanking to Data Analytics and Medical Research.

A biobank is any facility that stores biological samples for use in medical research. There are currently more than forty biobanks in Ireland. The patient data that accompanies stored samples is critical to its research value. There is increasing collaboration between the clinical research and data research communities in storing, analysing and sharing large health datasets for research purposes.

The seminar is the first Irish showcase of an EU research infrastructure like BBMRI (Biobanking and Biomolecular Resources Research Infrastructure). It will bring representatives from biobanking, industry, academia, law and data analytics together to discuss the contributions of their respective sectors to the improvement of healthcare, from prevention to treatment and drug development.

“By working together clinical researchers and data scientists will break new ground in disease therapy and public health," Prof O’Sullivan said.

The event will also highlight the key role that biobanks play in providing resources for health research, and it will demonstrate how Ireland could benefit from participating in one of the largest health infrastructures in Europe, BBMRI-ERIC. The seminar will examine how applying data science to this kind of health data is yielding exciting results.

“Ireland’s biobank network, as well as its molecular medicine research, are key European components and their contribution to BBMRI-ERIC will be a very important part of our ongoing work,” says Prof. Jan-Eric Litton, BBMRI-ERIC Director General.


Register for the event here:


For further information:


Professor Barry O’Sullivan, Director of the Insight Centre for Data Analytics at UCC.

Tel: +353 868 035 550


Notes for the editor:


Insight Centre for Data Analytics is the largest of the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) funded research centres. With 350+ researchers, it is one of the largest data analytics research institutes in Europe. Insight undertakes high impact research in data analytics that has significant impact on industry and society by enabling better decision making. It has a well-established track record of supporting ethical scientific research that puts the rights of the individual and her data at the centre of what it does. You can read about Insight’s Magna Carta for Data project here.


BBMRI-ERIC primarily aims at establishing, operating, and developing a pan-European distributed research infrastructure of biobanks and biomolecular resources to facilitate access to biological resources as well as biomedical facilities and support high-quality biomolecular and medical research. Biological tissues and associated data are necessary to understanding the causes of disease and developing new drugs and treatments. Likewise, data serves to analyse the influence of environment and lifestyle factors on health, constituting a basis for disease prevention programmes and the improvement of public health.



Press Release
Publication Date: 
Thursday, 7 January, 2016