Retrospect: Successful Course on Data Integration in the Life Sciences

February 2-6, 2015 at the Lorentz Center, Leiden, the Netherlands

Molecules, cells, tissues and organs work together to form robust living organisms. In the past decade, many new and powerful technologies have been developed that enable researchers to collect huge amounts of information about each of these components of life, such as multiple ‘omics technologies, microscopy and other imaging methods. To make sense of this huge information influx, such diverse data sets must first be integrated before we can hope to understand the functioning of living organisms to such a degree that we can then alter (e.g. through biotechnology) or correct (for health purposes) their properties. The challenge lies in combining different types of data sets in a meaningful way, and the most promising route is to use computational modelling as the integrative tool. 

To train researchers in this innovative approach, ERASysAPP decided to support a course on Data Integration in the Life Sciences, which was organized by Prof. Roel van Driel. During this week-long course, 20 postdocs and PhD students from nine different European countries were introduced to model-driven data integration. The course combined introductory lectures, hands-on data integration and showcase lectures on prominent European research in this field.

The course was very well received. Participants not only stated that they received a good overview of the possibilities of data integration, but that they also appreciated the chance to network and discuss with both young and experienced scientists. Tips and inspiration for their own research projects were also cited as an important take-home message from the course.

The course was sponsored by ERASysAPP, the Dutch research school BioSB on bioinformatics and systems Biology ( and the Lorentz Center (