eSysbio is an online system for collaborative life science research. It provides a secure Web-based workspace where researchers can analyse and share their data.
The aims of eSysbio are:
- to enable efficient interdisciplinary life science research
- to ease analysis of complex biological data
- to allow efficient use of public data and analysis tools
- to automatically document in silico experiments for reproducible science
eSysbio is being developed by a team of researchers and programmers at Uni Computing and the University of Bergen. The project started in September 2007, and is funded by the eVITA programme of the Research Council of Norway.
For the analyses of their data, users of eSysbio can use any external tools that have an interoperable SOAP Web service interface (life-science Web services are listed in BioCatalogue). In addition, users can use their custom R scripts, or those shared with other users. It allows complex analyses by composing Web services and R scripts into custom workflows.
eSysbio uses public ontologies to annotate and understand the main properties of tools, their operations, input and output data, and data stored in eSysbio. eSysbio currently supports the EDAM ontology determining the type of data and their format, and the Web Service Interaction Ontology (WSIO) allowing automated "asynchronnous" invocation of Web services and determing the way a Web service transports, encodes, or compresses data.
eSysbio uses state-of-the-art technology, is implemented with Service-Oriented Architecture (SOA), and adheres to W3C standards. Web interface is the main gateway to eSysbio for most of the users, but since the system is implemented using SOA, it is also accessible through its programmatic SOAP Web services interface. This implies that any stand-alone application can be adapted to interface with eSysbio, allowing for tailored user interfaces for specific purposes.
Projects such as Galaxy, or Taverna and MyExperiment have demonstrated the power of using automated workflows in life science. eSysbio has chosen a similar but slightly different approach, focusing on the IT industry standards - Web services and BPEL - for representing and executing analysis workflows. This should allow easier and more powerful integration with other tools and environments, and decrease dependence on the eSysbio system.