When justifying the importance of investing in science, the phrase “Knowledge is power”, attributed to Francis Bacon, very often comes up. Although the original Latin expression by the British philosopher would have read “ipsa scientia potestas est”, there can be no doubt that knowledge is not only a source of power, but more importantly of progress.
In re-reading Bacon, it becomes clear that knowledge – and not just knowledge of a purely scientific nature – is just as powerful as it is necessary. Knowing which tools, sources and instruments are within my grasp will allow me to work more effectively. The same is true of research, where it is vital to always be aware of cutting-edge innovations and services.
This is not always easy. Genome sequencing has progressed more rapidly than anticipated by Moore’s law, which predicts the rate of technological development. To illustrate this point, Paulino Gómez-Puertas, from the Severo Ochoa Molecular Biology Centre, explains that “just a few years ago, the NGS and analysis of a bacterial genome would have taken six months. Today, it takes less than a week and only costs a few hundred euros”.
Keeping abreast of every breakthrough in the field of biology is a complex task that we all strive towards. It takes on additional importance when you consider that innovative technology and services could help us to work quicker, more efficiently and more collaboratively. How can we become aware of and stay up-to-date on all the latest tools?.
BioCores was designed to provide an answer to this very question. According to Mònica Morales, Head of Core Facilities at the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), “the project’s aim is to meet the needs of the investigators themselves, who want to know what to do in the face of a particular problem, where to find the most suitable technology to resolve it and the associated price ranges”. The initiative, launched by the CRG itself, is being promoted as “a new search engine for scientific services”.
The tool will enable investigators to identify the core facility best suited to solving a particular problem or challenge in their R&D projects. To date, great scientific advances have led to the development of tools and units of technological services driven by specialist personnel who know the ins and outs of the latest technology and can offer their experience and support to other centres. As Morales explains, today it is irrelevant if each group or institution has its own services; what is important is to “promote the centralised and correct use” of the core facilities. The idea behind BioCores is to act as a repository of the technological units and tools found at different research centres. This directory will initially only cover services in the Barcelona area, although expansion into other regions is planned.
However, it is not just a directory, used to locate and find out about the latest state-of-the-art and specialised genomic tools, such as microscopes, flow cytometry or mass spectrophotometry. Rather, each centre can update the features, contact details, type of service or capacity of its core facilities. According to Morales, who would like to see the BioCores idea expand beyond Barcelona, this will greatly speed up work processes and the pooling of services.
The multidisciplinary and collaborative nature of modern-day research is fundamentally consistent with the top-down pooling strategy adopted by BioCores. As Morales points out, “for scientific collaboration it is not just important to know other research groups; it is also important that they know you”. In other words, BioCores’ mission is to publicise specialised technological services in the field of biology and promote the collaboration of multidisciplinary research groups.
In this sense, BioCores was conceived with an inclusive and borderless ideology with the aim of integrating all technological services applicable to the field of life sciences in the region of Catalonia and beyond. BioCores will also try to include in its specialised search engine all centres able to offer their services. Because, to paraphrase Bacon, knowledge is the ability to advance, accelerate, collaborate and work more efficiently. These are BioCores’ objectives; to be the “Google of Science”.