We live at a time when biology is producing vast reams of data, and mathematical modeling, statistics and computing are increasingly vital to help us understand them. The Center of Bioinformatics, Biostatistics and Integrative Biology (C3BI), set up in March 2015, is a multidisciplinary, transversal structure for large-scale data processing at the Institut Pasteur.
The C3BI facilitates cooperation and dialog on bioinformatics at the Institut Pasteur. It develops methodological research in computer science and statistics, offers support to experimental research units and works in conjunction with the Institut Pasteur International Network. The International Group for Data Analysis is responsible for developing bioinformatics activities and training in this field within the International Network.
A research area
The C3BI is composed of teams of scientists who work closely with the Institut Pasteur's departments in highly varied research fields:
- human evolutionary genetics, microbial evolutionary genomics, spatial regulation of genomes, evolutionary bioinformatics, statistical genetics and systems biology (in the Department of Genomes and Genetics);
- structural bioinformatics (in the Department of Structural Biology and Chemistry);
- human genetics and cognitive functions (in the Department of Neuroscience);
- mathematical epidemiology (in the Department of Infection and Epidemiology);
- imaging and modeling (in the Department of Cell Biology and Infection).
The C3BI is coordinating a highly ambitious research project: INCEPTION, which stands for Institut Convergence: Emergence of Pathology Through Individuals and Populations. This project, selected for funding in 2016 by the French National Research Agency under the Investing in the Future program, aims to improve understanding and monitoring of the emergence of diseases in populations (epidemic control, etc.) and individuals (precision medicine, etc.). As part of the INCEPTION project, the C3BI applies new bioinformatics and biostatistics methods to help scientists understand and make use of the profusion of biological data generated by experimental biology, public health and clinical research.
A bioinformatics platform
"I need you to analyze the data that we've collected." The C3BI responds to requests like this from teams at the Institut Pasteur and within its International Network. It analyzes data via its bioinformatics platform, which meets wide-ranging needs in this field. The recruitment of around thirty scientists and engineers from 2014 to 2016 will enable the C3BI to perform large-scale data analysis. In 2018, a new building with space for 120 people will bring all the C3BI teams together under the same roof on the Paris campus.
The Institut Pasteur's bioinformatics platform is a reference center and a member of the ELIXIR European network and the French Institute of Bioinformatics.
The C3BI offers a wide variety of training opportunities for biologists, mathematicians, computer scientists, statisticians and other professionals, either as part of PhD training programs or for working scientists. For example, training courses on high-throughput sequencing data analysis have been held at institutes in the Institut Pasteur International Network (in Montevideo, Dakar and São Paulo) and on the Paris campus.
Director of the C3BI
Until the late 1990s, biology was a discipline that was carried out using test tubes and Petri dishes. Nowadays, biologists are just as likely to be sitting at a computer as they are working in a lab. And that applies to all areas of biology. The Institut Pasteur is approaching this new field with a great deal of energy and commitment.