Two Lero researchers at University of Limerick have been recognised for their commitment to Open Science with a European Open Science Award.

Professor Aedín Culhane, Professor of Cancer Genomics and Dr Maria Doyle, Bioconductor Community Manager, who are both based at UL’s School of Medicine, have won a Young European Research Universities Network (YERUN) Open Science Award 2023 for their work on the Bioconductor project.

Bioconductor is an open-source software project in the R statistical language, widely used in biomedical research. It provides tools for analysing genomic data, critical for understanding diseases at a molecular level. The award recognised the Bioconductor Community Advisory Board, co-founded by Professor Aedín Culhane in 2020.

This board played a crucial role in securing funding for Dr Maria Doyle’s Community Manager position and supported her leadership in projects such as the Bioconductor website redesign and the global training programme. These initiatives have been instrumental in promoting Bioconductor's mission to advance open-source software for biomedical research and genomic data analysis and ensure equitable access for researchers worldwide. 

Both recipients are members of Lero, the UL-hosted Science Foundation Ireland Research Centre for Software, while Professor Culhane is also a member of the Health Research Institute in UL and director of the Limerick Digital Cancer Research Centre.

Reacting to the win, Dr Maria Doyle said: “This award is a great honour for us and a testament to the Bioconductor community's commitment to Open Science. It highlights the importance of collaboration in advancing research and creating tools that push the boundaries of knowledge.

”As the Community Manager, I’ve been supported by the Bioconductor Community Advisory Board in facilitating a network where biomedical researchers and software developers come together to enhance our collective understanding of genetic data and its implications for health and disease treatment.”

The award includes a prize of €2,000, which the recipients plan to use for a hackathon aimed at AI-assisted translation of training material, further enhancing accessibility and global outreach efforts.

The YERUN Open Science Awards aim to recognise and celebrate outstanding contributions to Open Science within the YERUN community. These awards highlight individuals or teams that have demonstrated a commitment to advancing Open Science principles, practices, and collaborations.

Commenting on the award, Professor Aedín Culhane said: “The community-driven nature of Bioconductor is evident in our mission to develop, support, and disseminate free source, open development software that facilitates rigorous and reproducible analysis of data from current and emerging biological assays. The Community Advisory Board brings together members of our global community, who each have different skills, perspectives, and experiences to inform how we build a diverse, collaborative, and welcoming community of developers and data scientists. Open source software allows us to build on the success of others so the collective-wisdom of our community can be applied to develop high quality software and computational algorithms that meet the demands of the cutting-edge research in biology and medicine.”

Lero was chosen as one of the awardees last year. The Lero Open Science Committee was awarded for developing centre-wide strategies that lead to increased visibility for researchers, greater opportunities for collaboration and greater transparency in the research process. 

They established Lero’s Open Science Programme Office and Open Science Charter to set out a roadmap for how the SFI centre deals with Open Source in its day-to-day activities.