The Imperial College Bioinformatics Support Service (BSS) changed its name on June 1st 2016 to the Bioinformatics Data Science Group (BDSG). As before, the Bioinformatics Data Science Group works with researchers and post-graduate students across all College faculties, on all campuses. Our mission is to provide and co-ordinate world class research and training in bioinformatics within Imperial College, disseminate good practice and to provide state-of-the-art bioinformatics support to members of Imperial College for their research.


What is bioinformatics?

Bioinformatics can be defined as the use of computational, mathematical and statistical methods to organise, analyse and interpret biological information, particularly at the molecular, genetic and genomic levels. Bioinformatics is central to the interpretation and exploitation of the wealth of biological data being generated in the post-genome era with the consequential major clinical and commercial benefits. Bioinformatics as a discipline, by its nature, increasingly underpins and overlaps a wide range of newer disciplines including Systems Biology, Synthetics Biology and Translational Medicine.


What is data science?

Data Science embraces the whole data lifecycle, from data acquisition through manipulation, analysis and communicating results. In essence, Data Science is all about extracting valuable useable information from large, complex datasets. With the generation of larger and larger-scale bioinformatics datasets and the increasing emphasis on integration of data from different modalities to form a composite picture, data science principles are becoming an increasing part of the bioinformatics picture.


A short history

The BSS was established in 2002, as part of the Centre for Bioinformatics, jointly by the Faculty of Medicine and the Department of Life Sciences, Faculty of Natural Sciences, under the directorship of Professor Michael Sternberg. The Centre for Bioinformatics merged with the BBSRC/EPSRC Centre for Integrative Systems Biology at Imperial College (CISBIC) in 2010 to form the Centre for Integrative Systems Biology and Bioinformatics (CISBIO) of which the BSS remained a core part. In February 2015, the BSS have moved under the Faculty of Medicine and is situated within the Department of Surgery and Cancer, in the Centre for Computational Medicine. In June 2016 the group changed its name to The Bioinformatics Data Science Group, reflecting the gradual change in emphasis over the last few years towards larger, longer running projects with complex data.

Summary of available services

Summary of available services

  • Access to dedicated computing hardware – servers and storage
  • Centrally installed and maintained Bioinformatics software
  • Help-desk via email
  • Web-site with access to help information, tutorials
  • Access to wide-ranging expertise of 5 bioinformaticians and software developers
  • One-to-one tutorials, group and site visits
  • Consultancy (per hour fees apply) on all aspects of bioinformatics including data management
  • Help with bio-data management including writing and actioning data sharing and management plans for grants
  • Production of bespoke software, interfaces, visualisation for specific bioinformatics problems
  • Building and centrally hosting project-specific bio- web-sites with dynamic content
  • Design and implementation of databases and interfaces for complex (anonymised) clinical research projects.
  • Help with experimental design and grant-writing, including all aspects of bioinformatics – data analyses, methodologies, provisioning for compute, software, storage, staff time
  • Ability to act as Co-I and provider of bioinformatics expertise as per-hourly consultancy charges or with named part-post researchers on grant applications – 14 years track record with all RCUK, major charities and EU funders.
  • Access to a limited number of centrally maintained commercial software licenses
  • Support and services for other cross-college facilities e.g. compute expertise, managed storage, software (as used by the FILM)
  • Teaching and training – short practical-based courses, also teaching on selected undergraduate and postgraduate courses 

For other facilities

We work with other College service providers and facilities, predominantly providing expertise and assistance in the areas of data management, data dissemination and data storage. We can also assist with compute equipment specifications, procuring vendor quotations, for internal projects and grant-writing, data analyses and production of data portals.

Examples include

The FILM (Facility for Imaging by Light Microscopy) for whom we provide managed large-scale data storage, host a range of commercial image analysis packages, and host and maintain the OMERO image database and analysis system.

The National Phenome Centre  for whom we supply a bespoke sample tracking system

The Imperial College Healthcare Tissue Bank for whom we develop databases, sample tracking systems and more recently part of the data exchange system for Imperial’s role in the Imperial College Health Partners NHS Genomics Medical Centre (GMC) for Genomics England.

If you are running a service and/or a College facility and would like to find out more about how we may be able to work with you, please get in touch.