SME Bioinformatics Forum 2017


SME Bioinformatics Forum 2017

Wednesday 1 November 2017

How can your company make the most of public molecular data resources? Find out at our event for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), 1 November on the Wellcome Genome Campus in Hinxton, Cambridge. You'll meet experts from EMBL-EBI, the Medicines Discovery Catapult, Open Targets and many others that focus on bioinformatics, biomedical and biotechnology R&D.



Chair: Dominic Clark

EMBL-EBI offers an incredible range of data resources, free of charge, that can help SMEs stay focused on innovation.

At this year's SME Bioinformatics Forum we'll have presentations, flash talks by delegates, use-case demos and plenty of opportunities to network.





Arrival, registration and refreshments


Welcome Address

Dominic Clark, Industry Programme Manager, EMBL-EBI

Aline Charpentier, Business Development Manager at One Nucleus


EMBL-EBI: A Strategic Overview

Rolf Apweiler, Director, EMBL-EBI


The BioInnovation Centre (BIC) and Campus Developments

Emmanuelle Astoul, Head of Technology Transfer and Business Development, Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute


Flash Talks: Session 1

Selected delegates


Open Targets: An update

Open Targets is a public/private partnership between GSK, EMBL-EBI, the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute and Biogen. It aims to transform drug discovery through the systematic identification and prioritisation of targets. The Open Targets Platform integrates public domain data and presents it through a UX-driven interface to enable target identification and prioritisation.

David Hulcoop (GSK), Open Targets Operations Director


Ontology Services at EMBL-EBI

This presentation will cover how to access ontologies (Ontology Lookup service); how to map to ontologies (Zooma); how to translate between ontologies (OXO); how to extend an ontology (Webulous); and how to build ontology aware search applications (BioSolr).

Simon Jupp, Parkinson team: Samples, Phenotypes and Ontologies, EMBL-EBI


Flash Talks: Session 2

Selected delegates



Over the lunch break, you will have an opportunity to interact with subject-matter experts from Open Targets, ChEMBL, ELIXIR, One Nucleus, Medicines Discovery Catapult, Royal Society, and EMBL-EBI Ontology Services. Demonstrations will focus on use cases.


Flash Talks: Session 3

Selected delegates


Panel Discussion: Standards and Data Integration

Do data standards meet with your requirements? Have your say in this interactive panel session.

Chair: Dominic Clark, EMBL-EBI


Medicines Discovery Catapult: SME Services

The Medicines Discovery Catapult is a new, national centre of applied R&D expertise that promotes and supports innovative, fast-to-patient drug discovery in the UK through collaborative projects across the community.

John Overington, Chief Informatics Officer, Medicines Discovery Catapult


Metagenomics Services and the MetXtra Project

EMBL-EBI's freely available Metagenomics data resource enables researchers to submit sequence data and associated descriptive metadata about environmental samples to public nucleotide archives. Once deposited, the Metagenomics team helps ensure the data is functionally analysed (using an InterPro-based pipeline), taxonomically analysed and visualised via a web interface. An Innovate UK-funded collaboration between EMBL-EBI's Metagenomics service and BioCatalysts Ltd, an SME in the Cardiff area, is enhancing enzyme discovery within the biotechnology sector.

Rob Finn, Team Leader, Sequence Families, EMBL-EBI


One Nucleus: SME Services

One Nucleus is an international membership organisation for life-science and healthcare companies. Based in Cambridge, the majority of its members are based in the Cambridge/London corridor, at the heart of Europe’s largest life-science and healthcare R&D cluster.

Aline Charpentier, One Nucleus


Coffee and networking


Flash Talks: Session 4

Selected delegates


User Experience in the Life Sciences: The Pistoia Alliance UXLS Project

The Pistoia Alliance has catalysed a community of practitioners from the pharmaceutical, healthcare, and software industries to launch the User Experience for Life Sciences (UXLS) project. UXLS aims to enable businesses of all sizes to adopt UX principles and methods as they   develop scientific software. The first deliverable is a UX toolkit for R&D companies.

Fiona Sargeant, Technical Author, Linguamatics


The Royal Society: SME Services

The Royal Society is a self-governing fellowship of the most distinguished scientists in the UK and the Commonwealth. It also elects Fellows and Foreign Members from all over the world based on the excellence of their science. The Royal Society is committed to increasing diversity in its own activities and among the scientific workforce. It seeks to collaborate with partners to promote the benefits of science.

Katy Gearing, Head of Industry Engagement, The Royal Society



Chemistry Services at EMBL-EBI

The Chemistry data resource teams, led by Andrew Leach, develop and manage ChEMBL, the freely available database of quantitative bioactivity data focussed in the area of drug discovery; SureCHEMBL, the database of patented chemical structures; ChEBI, the ontology of small molecules in biology; and MetaboLights, EMBL-EBI's metabolomics resource.

Andrew Leach, Head of Chemistry Services, EMBL-EBI


Professional Bioinformatics Training at EMBL-EBI

EMBL-EBI trains scientists at all levels to get the most out of publicly available biological data. The Training Programme offers face-to-face courses on site and at host institutes, as well aslfree online training.

Sarah Morgan, Training Programme Manager, EMBL-EBI


Panel session: Managing informatics collaborations



Networking Reception in EMBL-EBI's South Building


Register now


We are grateful to the Medicines Development Catapult and the Royal Society for providing financial support towards the cost of running this meeting.

Organising Committee

Thanks to FactBio, SciBite, Congenica, Ian Harrow Consulting Ltd, the Royal Society, InnovateUK, OneNucleus, ELIXIR, and ELIXIR UK for their input into the planning of this meeting.

If you have any practical questions about the logistics of this event, please contact Lucie Smith:


Please note that the speaker lineup and the timing of talks may change before the event.


Rolf Apweiler

Rolf Apweiler

Rolf Apweiler is Director of EMBL-EBI, together with Ewan Birney. Prior to this position he was Joint Associate Director, after many years of leading protein resources such as UniProt. Rolf has made a major contribution to methods for the automatic annotation of proteins, making it possible to add relevant information to proteome sets for entire organisms. He has spearheaded the development of standards for proteomics data, and his teams have maintained major collections of protein identifications from proteomics experiments (PRIDE) and molecular interactions (IntAct). He also led EMBL-EBI’s contribution to the Gene Ontology and is the current Director of Open Targets.

Rolf received his PhD from the University of Heidelberg in 1994, and has been at EMBL since 1987. His major contribution to the field of proteomics was recognised by the the Human Proteomics Organisation’s “Distinguished Achievement Award in Proteomics” in 2004 and his election to President of the Human Proteomics Organisation, which he held in 2007 and 2008. In 2012, he was elected as a member of EMBO and in 2015 he was elected to an ISCB (International Society for Computational Biology) fellow. Rolf also served over many years on a multitude of Editorial Boards and Scientific Advisory Boards.

Rob Finn

Rob Finn

Dr Rob Finn leads EMBL-EBI’s Sequence Families team, which is responsible for the InterPro, Pfam, Rfam and RNAcentral data resources. The team also looks after EMBL-EBI's fast-growing Metagenomics data service. Rob also has a small research group that probes the functions of microbial 'dark matter'.

Rob joined EMBL-EBI from the Janelia Research Campus in the US, where he led a group that designed fast, web-based, interactive protein-sequence searches and annotations. Between 2001 and 2010, he was the project leader for Pfam at the Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute in the UK. Rob’s academic background is in microbiology and he holds a PhD in biochemistry from Imperial College, London.

Andrew Leach

Andrew Leach

Dr Leach holds BA and DPhil degrees in Chemistry from Oxford University. He joined EMBL-EBI in August 2016 from GSK Research and Development, where he enjoyed a successful career since 1994, most recently as Global Head of Biomolecular Sciences. He also served as a Trustee of the Cambridge Crystallographic Data Centre from 2006-2015 and was editor of the Journal of Computer-Aided Molecular Design from 1997-2012.

Sarah Morgan

Sarah Morgan

Sarah has a BSc and MSc in Biomedical Sciences, followed by a PhD from Cranfield University. Over a 10 year academic career her research has focused on tumour biomarker characterisation and cell-surface interaction. Beyond research she took an active role in the provision of postgraduate taught courses for the University as Lecturer in Molecular Medicine, leading the development and direction of a number of MSc Courses including the MSc in Translational Medicine, the MSc in Molecular Medicine, and more recently acting as director for the MSc Programmes in Advanced Biosciences.  She has lectured on a variety of biomedical techniques and topics, including ethics and governance of research.

John P. Overington

John P. Overington

John joined the Medicines Discovery Catapult as Chief Informatics Officer in April 2017 from technology company Benevolent AI, where he was involved in development of novel data extraction and integration strategies, integrating deep learning and other Artificial Intelligence approaches to drug target validation and drug optimisation. Prior to this he worked for Inphrarmatica, where he led the development of a series of computational and data platforms to improve drug discovery, including the medicinal chemistry database StARLite. In 2008 John was central to the transfer of this database to the EMBL-EBI, where the successor is now known as the ChEMBL. More recently, the work extended into large-scale patent informatics with the Open patent database SureChEMBL. John, who has a degree in Chemistry from Bath and PhD from Birkbeck College, London, has also worked at Pfizer – first as a computational chemist and then leading a multidisciplinary group combining rational drug design with structural biology. He has also held a postdoctoral position at the Imperial Cancer Research Fund (now part of CRUK).

Olga Vrousgou

Olga Vrousgou

Olga is a Bioinformatician/Software Developer on the Samples, Phenotypes and Ontologies team at EMBL-EBI. She works on the DIACHRON project, which is developing technology for monitoring the evolution of data on the Web, and aims to apply the results to the Ontology Lookup Service to better track changes in ontology versions. Prior to joining EMBL-EBI, Olga worked as a Software Developer and Application Consultant for a retail planning company in Greece. She holds a Masters of Engineering in Electrical and Computer Engineering from the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.

European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) - Kendrew Lecture Theatre
Wellcome Genome Campus Hinxton Cambridge CB10 1SD United Kingdom

The Kendrew Lecture Theatre in EMBL-EBI's South Building, situated with a view towards the amphitheatre, seats 150 people. The lecture theatre is equipped with three cameras for recording events remotely.


Contact us

Have questions about the event? Please contact:

Twitter: #SMEForum2017