United Kingdom to launch on-line research archive to further biomedical discovery

Manchester 31 July 2006Scientists will be able to access a vast collection of biomedical research at the touch of a button thanks to a major new initiative that aims to promote the free transfer of ideas in a bid to speed up scientific discovery. Based on a model currently used in the United States, UK PubMed Central (UKPMC) will provide free access to an on-line digital archive of peer-reviewed research papers in the medical and life sciences.


The Wellcome Trust, as part of a nine-strong group of United Kingdom research funders, has signed the contract to run UKPMC which has been awarded to a partnership between the British Library, the University of Manchester and the European Bioinformatics Institute (EBI).

Mark Walport, Director of the Wellcome Trust, stated: "Medical research is not complete until the results have been communicated. I am delighted that such a strong consortium has been appointed to run UK Pubmed Central. UKPMC is a partnership with National Library of Medicine in the United States and will provide the best repository of the biomedical research literature in the world."

UKPMC will ensure that the digital archive of published articles resulting from research paid for by any of the funding consortium will be freely available, fully searchable and extensively linked to other on-line resources.

Richard Boulderstone, Director of e-Strategy and Programmes at the British Library, stated: "The British Library is delighted to have been chosen to set up and manage UK PubMed Central. Along with our partners, we anticipate that it will offer a sophisticated and exciting new means of scholarly communication for biomedical researchers. Building on the complementary strengths that each partner brings to this project, we expect to create a platform for the development of a whole range of new services for the United Kingdom and European biomedical research community."

In the initial stages of the UKPMC programme, the British Library will lead on setting up the service, developing the process for handling author submissions and marketing the resource to the research community.

The University of Manchester will host the service - on servers based at Manchester Information and Associated Services (MIMAS) - and will support the process of engaging with higher-education users.

EBI, which is part of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL), will contribute its biomedical domain knowledge and state-of-the-art text-mining tools to integrate the research literature with the underlying bioinformatics databases.

Professor Stephen Oliver, of the University of Manchester's Faculty of Life Sciences, stated: "The availability of complete genome sequences has revolutionised the biomedical sciences and the University of Manchester has been in the vanguard of this revolution since its inception. There has been an explosive growth in both the number of biomedical publications and the size of their accompanying data sets; UKPMC will become a major tool to allow both the research community and the public to access and analyse this information. Manchester's expertise in bioinformatics and the provision of on-line bibliographic services will be harnessed towards this end. We have a long history of collaboration with the British Library and the European Bioinformatics Institute in both research and service provision, and we look forward to working with these partners to make UKPMC an integral part of the national research scene."

Peter Stoehr, Head of IT Services at the EBI, added: "We are excited about working with our partners to improve global access to the biomedical literature. This fits perfectly with the EBI's service mission, to provide freely available data and bioinformatics services to all facets of the scientific community in ways that promote scientific progress; we are looking forward to creating new ways to mine this information and to link it to underlying biological databases."

UK PubMed Central will provide an enhanced way of accessing published research, preserving it for prosperity and making it richly searchable in ways that are not currently available. The first phase of the implementation will involve mirroring the American PubMed Central database. The partners will then establish the technical infrastructure of the service, including the facility for ingesting articles, and will also begin to engage more widely with the user communities. Launch of the service is scheduled for January 2007.

The UKPMC Funders Group consists of nine members: Arthritis Research Campaign, The Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, The British Heart Foundation, Cancer Research UK, The Association of Medical Research Charities, The Chief Scientist Office of the Scottish Executive Health Department, the Department of Health, The Joint Information Systems Committee, the Medical Research Council and the Wellcome Trust.

PubMed Central can be accessed at http://www.pubmedcentral.gov

Leslie Versweyveld

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