Covid-19: enter the new global research marketplace

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13 August 2020

“No more business as usual: Agile and effective responses to emerging pathogen threats require open data and open analytics.”

This paper resulted from an intense weekend of activity in February where a global Galaxy team – including our own Andrew Lonie and Simon Gladman – assembled all publicly available SARS-CoV-2 (Covid-19) data and, in doing so, challenged all our notions of how science is done.

The authors wanted to demonstrate how a lack of data sharing was stemming the flow and analysis of global research data which is essential for tackling public health emergencies such as Covid-19.

So the Galaxy team used all the Covid-19 genomic data available in the public domain to give ready access to that raw data and to show that the global Galaxy community effort to curate and deploy biomedical software can reliably support rapid, reproducible research during global health crises. You can review the full analyses at

In an age of digital connectedness, open, highly accessible, globally shared data and analysis platforms have the potential to transform the way biomedical research is done, opening the way to ‘global research markets’, where competition arises from deriving understanding rather than access to samples and data. Other disciplines have embraced the benefits of global data generation and sharing, astronomy and high energy physics being two highly successful examples. We have the opportunity to mirror their successes in infrastructure funding by demonstrating that biological research can embrace the same global perspective on common infrastructure investment and data sharing.

Assoc Prof Andrew Lonie, Director, Australian BioCommons
& Senior Advisor, Melbourne Bioinformatics

For more background, read about exciting projects such as Europe’s ELIXIR and the Australian BioCommons where open communities are building the freeways on which to do such important public research, aiming to give unfettered access to data, analysis tools and computational infrastructure.

Citation: Baker D, van den Beek M, Blankenberg D, Bouvier D, Chilton J, Coraor N, et al. (2020) No more business as usual: Agile and effective responses to emerging pathogen threats require open data and open analytics. PLoS Pathog 16(8): e1008643.

This work was first reported on our Galaxy Project Blog in March 2020.