Coordinated by Dr Christoph Steinbeck of the EMBL-European Bioinformatics Institute, COSMOS (Coordination of Standards in Metabolomics) will bring together European data providers to set and promote community standards that will make it easier to disseminate metabolomics data through life science e-infrastructures. This Coordination Action has been financed with €2 million by the European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme.
Metabolic processes drive physiology, and the use of metabolomics in environmental science, toxicology, plant science, food and medicine is well established and growing rapidly. Metabolomics is a way to assess the state of an organism (or collections of organisms), and involves a comprehensive set of analyses of the small molecules in cells, tissues, and body fluids. In medicine it can help characterise disease states, and in biotechnology it can help assess whether an organism is suitable for applications such as renewable energy production.
The large amounts of data produced in metabolomics studies require robust biomedical and life science e-infrastructures. In addition to capturing and storing extremely large volumes of data, e-infrastructures must be capable of disseminating these data based on open and widely accepted community standards. The partners will develop policies to ensure that metabolomics data is encoded in open standards; tagged with agreed metadata; supported by open source data management and capturing tools; disseminated in open-access databases; supported by vendors and publishers; and properly interfaced with data in other biomedical and life science e-infrastructures.
The new project is well timed, as it coincides with the development of repositories such as MetaboLights and the growing support for life science e-infrastructures.