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“Scientific infrastructure is becoming more and more important in the life sciences”

Interview with Dr Katja Hartig (DFG) on the launch of projects utilising TMF services

September 2016. Last year, the DFG invited applications for grants for research projects making use of TMF services. Work on the projects selected is now starting. Dr Katja Hartig, Programme Director Medicine at DFG, discusses the objectives of the grants provided and what the DFG is doing to help organisations better handle their research data and to expand and operate the research infrastructure that this requires.

What was the context for these grants?

The importance of infrastructure for medical research projects is increasing. TMF has played a major role in supporting the development of solutions and coordination processes and is increasingly offering individual advice.

To support TMF in establishing a funding model and to ensure that the scientific community enjoys free access to its products and services, the DFG has decided to encourage greater use of the opportunities offered by TMF by inviting organisations to develop projects in collaboration with the TMF. 

What are your expectations?

All of the projects originated at a workshop held in September 2015. Demand was high, so that only the first 50 applicants were able to take part. Starting from the ideas discussed at the workshop, we received 22 research proposals, nine of which we recommended for funding.

We expect all of the projects to demonstrate the value that a centralised structure such as TMF adds in performing research projects. We also hope that this will provide TMF with further impetus in its own development. In addition, all of the projects will produce or adapt tools or infrastructures which will subsequently be available for use by the rest of the research community. 

What role does scientific infrastructure play at the DFG?

In the life sciences, infrastructure – centralised databases, software, biobanks, other collections of material, etc. – is becoming increasingly important. The DFG has responded to this by establishing an “Infrastructures for research data”funding programme and has highlighted the importance of this topic by publishing DFG Guidelines on the Handling ofResearch Data.

Improving handling of research data and reproducibility of research results are key factors behind the existence and long-term financing of appropriate infrastructure. The DFG will therefore continue to play a role in shaping and maintaining the framework within which research takes place. 
Dr Katja Hartig is Programme Director in the Medicine Group at the Head Office of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG, German Research Foundation). She represents the DFG on TMF’s Council of Funding Organisations.  

  1. Read the full interview in German

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