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JOBIM: bioinformatics meets in Lille

From 3-6 July, Lille Grand Palais is hosting the 18th Open Days in Biology, Computer Science and Mathematics (JOBIM). 300 people are expected there, to discuss innovations in bioinformatics and biostatistics. Two teams from the Inria Lille - Nord Europe center are involved in this event: Bonsai and Modal.

The very first JOBIM1 meeting took place in 2000 in Montpellier. At the time, bioinformatics was relatively recent and researchers needed to meet each other and exchange views ”, Jean-Stéphane Varré, professor at Université Lille I - sciences et technologies, researcher within the Bonsai2 project team and co-organizer of the conference, recalls. Seventeen years later and the discipline is developing rapidly, however the conference has retained its primary objective: to bring together researchers linked to bioinformatics, be they mathematicians, statisticians, biologists, computer scientists... And to take stock of the state of the art and the major innovations.

Bioinformatics is the art of studying biological objects with computing or mathematical tools. It can be found in numerous areas of application: health, genetics, the environment, the study of biodiversity, etc. “We started doing bioinformatics in the 1990s. Since then, the technological tools to produce data have evolved at an incredible rate. Today, we are processing increasingly large volumes of biological data and, in order to do this, we need new information technology methods. ” Of the bioinformatics “subfields”, we can cite integrative biology, whose aim is to observe data in their entirety, or systems biology, which has multiple applications in both health and the design of biofuels.

A dynamic bioinformatics community in Lille

At the Inria Lille - Nord Europe center, two project teams are working on bioinformatics issues. This is the case for Modal3 and Bonsai, specialized in the analysis of data coming from high-throughput sequencing.  Two representatives of these teams chair the organizing committee of this 18th edition: Guillemette Marot and Jean-Stéphane Varré. It includes the Université de Lille, the CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research) - in particular the CRIStAL laboratory - but also the Lille Institut Pasteur, the Lille Institute of Biology, the French cancer research institute, the CHRU (regional university hospital center), and the bioinformatics service platform Bilille, who both use the tools but also work on their development. “Lille-based research in bioinformatics has been rather well recognized on a national level for 15 years ”, Jean-Stéphane Varré acknowledges.

The 300 expected participants are research lecturers, PhD students, post-doctoral researchers, engineers and some industrialists, such as the company Genoscreen. "Major IT companies will also be there in order to present and sell new computing solutions that are of use to bioinformaticians. "

Young people taking pride of place

Over three days, no fewer than 38 papers and demonstrations will be proposed. “Bioinformaticians and biostatisticians use tools that are developed by research teams. So this event will also be an opportunity to demonstrate new innovations. ” Although the objective is to provide an overview of the discipline, two recent fields in bioinformatics will be represented more specifically: high-throughput sequencing and metagenomics, which will be the focus of no fewer than four presentations. “It concerns the analysis of sequencing data, not of an individual but of an entire environment ”, Jean-Stéphane Varré explains. “For example, we take a soil sample, the entirety of which will be sequenced in order to look at which organisms and populations can be found there. It is very topical.

Finally, the event will also give pride of place to young PhD student bioinformaticians. They are organizing the JeBiF (Young French Bioinformaticians) days, which will take place on 6-7 July, just after JOBIM. In particular, the program includes round tables on the employment of young French bioinformaticians. This year, the young people from Lille have also invited their counterparts from neighboring countries to the 3rd Benelux Fra symposium.“The primary objective of this event is really to ensure that people get to meet each other. It is, above all, a convivial event”,Jean-Stéphane Varré concludes.

1- Three actors in the field of French bioinformatics together ensure that the JOBIM conference is held annually: the SFBI (French Society of Bioinformatics), the CNRS's GDR BIM (French Molecular Bioinformatics Research Group) and the IFB (French Institute of Bioinformatics).

2- Jointly with the CNRS and the Université Lille I - Sciences et Technologies. At UMR 9189, CNRS-Centrale Université Lille I - Sciences et Technologies, CRIStAL.

3- Jointly with the CNRS, Université Lille I - Sciences et Technologies and Université de Lille 2 − Droit et Santé. Within the UMR 8524 CNRS-Université de Lille 1 − Sciences et Technologies, the Paul Painlevé laboratory, and the EA 2694 "Public Health: Epidemiology and Quality of Care" of the Université de Lille 2 − Droit et Santé.

Keywords: JOBIM JeBiF Biostatistics Bioinformatics Metagenomics