Bioinformatics Services at VIB - all roads lead to BITS

16 March 2015

​BITS plays a central role, building upon its expertise in BioIT training, scientific software support, and Research and BioIT data analysis support. Since the unit merged with the Lab Informatics team, the stablishment of ELN as a base platform for data documentation throughout VIB has been on their radar. BITS is also moving in the direction of acting as OMICS integrator,thus providing unique value to the Core
Facilities’ customers. So it’s high time to meet up with Alex Botzki, who’s in charge of the facility.

Who can request your services?
Alex: We welcome the whole scientific community and offer service support through a fee-for-service based model.

How do scientists know what services you offer?
We have our own website and we also use direct e-mailings to announce upcoming trainings. In the near future, we will also use social media and digital marketing tools to make communicating and sending announcements about new developments, courses, and online materials even easier.

What do you have in store for the future?
Recently, the renewed BITS Advisory Board suggested creating a VIB BioIT community by leveraging the role of BITS as ‘the central hub’. As a first exercise, we started compiling a white paper to spot and highlight future BioIT trends that are going to impact the lives of our scientists. This paper will set the scene for further collaborative projects and high-impact global outreach for BioIT@VIB. So, fascinating times ahead.

Who does what at BITS?
Currently, we have a team of five highly experienced staff members. Janick Mathys is our Training
Coordinator. Stéphane Plaisance assists her with several trainings and is specialized in customized
training & data mining. As Senior Research Informatics Expert, Herwig Van Marck implements data management solutions for the Core Facilities as well as carrying out other research data analyses together with me heading the unit. In February, we hired a new colleague, Christof De Bo, who will take over the majority of the ELN support and training tasks.

What do other colleagues have to say about BITS?

Wim Vranken, VIB Structural Biology Research Center, Vrije Universiteit Brussel:
“It is becoming ever more important for life scientists to be proficient in bioinformatics, and BITS
has proven itself to be a master in addressing this key educational challenge.”

Lennart Martens, VIB Department of Medical Protein Research, UGent:
“Bioinformatics is a rich field with many specializations and complementary research projects. By increasingly acting as a local community hub, BITS allows researchers from all of these subdisciplines to meet, interact, and collaborate in exciting ways.”

BITS Advisory Board:
Yvan Saeys - VIB Inflammation Research Center, UGent
Lennart Martens - VIB Department of Medical Protein Research, UGent
Frederik Coppens - VIB Department of Plant Systems Biology, UGent
Wim Vranken - VIB Structural Biology Research Center, VUB
Mark Fiers - VIB Center for the Biology of Disease, KU Leuven
Bart Smets - VIB Department of Molecular Genetics, University of Antwerp
Wout Van Delm - Nucleomics core,  VIB
Mark Veugelers - VIB Headquarters
Geert Van Minnebruggen - VIB Headquarters
Herwig Van Marck - BITS

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From left to right, top: Herwig Van Marck, Stéphane Plaisance, Christof De Bo
Bottom: Janick Mathys, Alexander Botzki

©VIB, 2015