Ireland joins EU genomics project to help find genetic causes of disease

18 Nov 2022

Image: © RFBSIP/

The Genomic Data Infrastructure project will share genomic data across 20 EU countries to boost biomedical research and the development of personalised medicine.

Ireland has entered an EU project to integrate genomics into healthcare and advance new treatments for patients.

The Genomic Data Infrastructure (GDI) project aims to enable access to genomics and relevant clinical data across Europe by creating secure data infrastructure.

The Irish element of the project is being co-led by RCSI University of Medicine and Health Science, University College Dublin and FutureNeuro, the Science Foundation Ireland research centre for neurological diseases.

The EU project involves a consortium of 20 member states. It will facilitate the creation of a cross-border federated network of national genome collections for biomedical research and the development of personalised medicine.

GDI Ireland national co-lead Prof Gianpiero Cavalleri said this federated analysis system will enable Irish genomic data to be “safely and securely analysed” alongside similar datasets from other European countries.

“Such infrastructure can accelerate the discovery of genetic causes of disease and inform the development of much-needed treatments for conditions such as cancer that can have a devastating impact on our lives,” Cavalleri added.

The Irish GDI hub plans to establish best practices to manage Irish genetic data, protecting the security of personal data contributed by individuals.

The project also positions Ireland to participate in the European ‘1+ Million Genomes’ initiative, which is pushing for the development, deployment and operation of sustainable data access infrastructures within each participating country.

“Ireland’s participation in this project will see our researchers, clinicians, patient representatives, experts in data governance, data analysts and others collaborating on a roadmap for data infrastructure in Ireland and conducting proof-of-concept work using synthetic data,” said Health Research Board CEO Dr Mairead O’Driscoll.

The European GDI coordinator, Serena Scollen, explained that the participating countries will be able to deploy infrastructure to “facilitate secure cross-border data access”.

“Ultimately the benefit will be for the citizens of Europe and, through shared learnings and improved healthcare, citizens globally.”

The GDI Ireland project is being jointly funded by the European Commission, under the Digital Europe Programme, and Ireland’s Health Research Board.

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Leigh Mc Gowran is a journalist with Silicon Republic