The "Strengthening Computational Biodiversity Research in Greece" (Comp-Biodiv-GR) project is funded via the EU ERA Chair (HORIZON-WIDERA-2022-TALENTS-01: 2023-2028) program under project ID 101087081. It started on 01.01.2023 and will last for 5 years.
Greece has been recognized as a Biodiversity hotspot due to its high levels of spatial, temporal, and habitat heterogeneity as well as complex geological and climatic history since the late Tertiary. It also has an exceptionally high percentage of endemism, particularly so, on the island of Crete.
Biodiversity monitoring, assessment, and quantification actions are a key focus of the regional government of Crete as well as of the national government with an emphasis on touristic and agricultural areas. Bioinformatics plays a key role in modern biodiversity research and management.
However, core computational biodiversity method development is currently substantially under-developed in Greece. The country has experienced substantial brain drain over the last decade. Many excellent students, including biologists and computer scientists, left Greece for a PhD abroad and too few of them returned. Further, too few international scientists move to Greece from abroad.
Thus, this project aims to reverse brain drain and strengthen Biodiversity research in Greece by establishing an excellent research group that will complement existing research activities in the leading computer science research institute of the country: ICS-FORTH.
Within Greece, the group will have a unique and clear focus on the development of core Bioinformatics tools, algorithms and methods, that is, methods that constitute the key components of data analysis pipelines. Such core computational tools are pivotal in the molecular assessment and quantification of species diversity as well as abundance and hence for devising protective measures.
Thereby, it will fill a nation-wide gap in the development of core Biodiversity and evolutionary method development research.
The group will closely interact in a highly interdisciplinary manner with regional institutions that carry out Biodiversity field work, digital infrastructure, empirical data analysis, data analysis workflow, and data repository projects.
Developing excellence in Biodiversity research will contribute to increased protection and awareness of Biodiversity, contribute to foster brain gain, and training brains that can contribute to advancing the knowledge based society in academia and industry. The project will maintain and extend Europe’s leading role in Biodiversity research and further strengthen the position of Greece, not only as a physical Biodiversity hotspot with Europe, but also as a computational Biodiversity hotspot.