At NPG, as at all forward thinking places, we have more ideas than we can follow through. For Governments funding heavy duty science informatics infrastructure, deciding which projects to support is an especially difficult task. There are various strategies funders use to help them. I recently talked to Richard Jorgensen, director of the new iPlant Collaborative about an interesting approach the NSF is taking to formulate next-generation plant biology informatics infrastructure.
The NSF has given $50M (for the first five years initially) to set up the iPlant Collaborative. Through workshops and other activities, the Collaborative aims to get the plant community to decide for itself the range of projects that would be most useful to the field. The outcome should be a set of Grand Challenges, from which new informatics projects will grow. The Collorative is an open rather than closed-shop exercise, and could therefore be interesting to sociologists who want real evidence about how scientists discuss big, no doubt contentious, issues.
I wonder what informatics programs will emerge?