Bioinformatics Core Survey Highlights the Challenges Facing Data Analysis Facilities

J Biomol Tech. 2020 Jul;31(2):66-73. doi: 10.7171/jbt.20-3102-005.


Over the last decade, the cost of -omics data creation has decreased 10-fold, whereas the need for analytical support for those data has increased exponentially. Consequently, bioinformaticians face a second wave of challenges: novel applications of existing approaches (e.g., single-cell RNA sequencing), integration of -omics data sets of differing size and scale (e.g., spatial transcriptomics), as well as novel computational and statistical methods, all of which require more sophisticated pipelines and data management. Nonetheless, bioinformatics cores are often asked to operate under primarily a cost-recovery model, with limited institutional support. Seeing the need to assess bioinformatics core operations, the Association of Biomolecular Resource Facilities Genomics Bioinformatics Research Group conducted a survey to answer questions about staffing, services, financial models, and challenges to better understand the challenges bioinformatics core facilities are currently faced with and will need to address going forward. Of the respondent groups, we chose to focus on the survey data from smaller cores, which made up the majority. Although all cores indicated similar challenges in terms of changing technologies and analysis needs, small cores tended to have the added challenge of funding their operations largely through cost-recovery models with heavy administrative burdens.

Keywords: ABRF; funding model; institutional support; omics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Biomedical Research / standards*
  • Computational Biology / standards*
  • Genomics / standards*
  • Humans
  • Single-Cell Analysis / standards