The European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI)
EMBL Press Release
Heidelberg, 4 July 1994
A compelling package of senior appointments to the European
Bioinformatics Institute (EBI), proposed unanimously by an international
selection committee of experts, was ratified last week by the Council of
the European Molecular Biology Laboratory. The EBI is the newest
Outstation of EMBL, an international research institute with its
headquarters in Heidelberg, Germany.
The new appointments are designed to provide strong management of the
EBI and a high quality nucleus for the research division. The latter
will complement and closely interact with the service branch of the EBI
led by Graham Cameron, under whose leadership the EMBL Data Library -
the starting point for the EBI and its continuing first priority -
gained international acclaim.
The Head of EBI will be Paolo Zanella, Professor of Architecture and
Technologies of Computers at the University of Geneva. He is currently
on leave from CERN where he built up a Data Handling Division with 300
staff over 15 years. Since 1990 he has also been a founder, Chief
Executive Officer and Scientific Director of CRS4 in Cagliari, Sardinia,
a centre for high-performance computers and networks. Thus, he brings
to the EBI expertise and vision for future developments in the
applications of informatics, and a highly successful record in
establishing and managing major service and R & D centres.
The Coordinator of Research (50% time) will be Michael Ashburner, a
renowned geneticist and Professor at the University of Cambridge, who
has also made major contributions to the development of bioinformatics
resources. Currently he leads the only European group participating in
the NIH-funded development of "FlyBase", an integrated resource of
genetic, molecular and bibliographic data on Drosophila.
The first two Group Leader appointments in the research division have
been offered to Dr. Chris Sander, currently at EMBL Heidelberg, and
Prof. Shoshana Wodak, currently at Universite Libre de Bruxelles. They
are among the best known European scientists working in the broad field
of sequence/structure relationship of proteins.
These appointments give confidence that the EBI will establish itself as
a centre of excellence and reference world-wide in scientific database
management, methodology and development, and in bioinformatics research.
It will provide informatics support for European academic and industrial
research in biology and biotechnology, in close collaboration with
EMBnet and other essential and independent bioinformatics activities
The EBI will be located on the Hinxton Hall site, south of Cambridge in
the UK, which is owned by the Wellcome Trust. The EMBL Data Library
will move to that site in September 1994, beginning the operation of the
EBI. The site already hosts the Sanger Centre directed by J. Sulston,
which specialises in genome-scale sequencing, and will also be the new
home of the UK Medical Research Council's Human Genome Project Resource
Centre, directed by K. Gibson.
On announcing the recent appointments, F. C. Kafatos, the Director
General of EMBL, acknowledged the financial support of the European
Union for the EMBL Data Library, the substantial investments of the
Wellcome Trust and the MRC for launching the EBI, and the continuing,
long term support of the EMBL member states that will allow the EBI to
serve science well.