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[RIO DE JANEIRO] A second network has been launched in Latin America to boost regional collaboration in bioinformatics — the use of information technology to store and analyse biological information, particularly in genomics

The Iberoamerican Network for Bioinformatics, launched last month, aims to improve training, increase research coordination and encourage student exchanges in the region. It links more than 20 research groups from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Paraguay, Uruguay and Venezuela, as well as Spain.

"Bioinformatics is now widely recognised as a crucial field for research and development in agricultural, veterinary and human health sciences, as well as in biotechnology", says the coordinator of the network, Wim Degrave of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation in Brazil.

The Network will receive €50,000 a year from the Spanish government’s Iberoamerican Programme of Science and Technology for Development (CYTED). It will collaborate with another initiative – the Latin American and Caribbean Network for Bioinformatics (LacBioNet) — which was set up last year to promote training, research and information on bioinformatics, and already links more than 360 research groups in 12 countries.

"Bioinformatics and computational biology are disciplines in which scientists in developing countries can contribute on the world scene from a less disadvantaged position [than in other fields of science]," says Degrave. "An Internet link and a computer are all that you need to participate."

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