November 19, 2020
Thursday, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) announced $3 million in funding for open source software projects, including $74,000 to Michael Love, PhD, assistant professor at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health. These grants make up the third distinct funding cycle of CZI’s Essential Open Source Software for Science (EOSS) program, which supports projects representing some of the strongest computational foundations of modern biomedicine. CZI also announced $1.7 million in funding to organizations advancing reproducibility practices and open research infrastructure.
Love and his team are developing software that helps researchers analyze genomics data. His group developed and maintains open-source software tools, DESeq2 and tximeta, which are part of the Bioconductor project and are widely used by investigators to compare levels of RNA across biological samples. This EOSS grant from CZI will fund work to expand the DESeq2 and tximeta packages to better integrate with other experimental and annotation data available in Bioconductor. It will also aid in enhancing reproducibility by matching identifiers and versions across different data sources.
“By seamlessly connecting a scientist’s experimental data to information from previous experiments, our software helps to automate many of these tedious steps to save scientists’ time and reduce avoidable errors,” said Love.
A scientist may want to know, for example, how experimental results relate to the set of genes that are expressed in a particular cell type or to the regions of the genome that tend to be bound by specific proteins. Often such genomic data science tasks require many time-consuming data manipulation steps.
Open source software is crucial to modern scientific research, advancing biology and medicine while providing reproducibility and transparency. Yet even the most widely used research software often lacks dedicated funding. These grants from CZI aim to enable software maintenance, growth, development and community engagement for important tools used in imaging, single-cell biology, genomics and data management.
“Hundreds of software packages, libraries and applications have become essential tools for research — so much so that many researchers could not continue their work if such software were to disappear,” said CZI Head of Science Cori Bargmann. “We’re proud to support these critical open source projects to ensure the work of software maintainers is visible, recognized and fundable.”
This $3 million commitment from CZI is part of the EOSS program’s third cycle and covers 17 new grants, bringing the total number of funded proposals to 67 and the program’s total commitment to funding scientific open source to $11.8 million.
CZI supports several areas of basic science and technology with the goal of making it possible to cure, prevent or manage all diseases by the end of this century. In service of this mission, the Open Science program at CZI aims to accelerate the pace, robustness and reproducibility of science — investing in projects and organizations focused on open science while also serving the broader scientific community.
About the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative
Founded by Dr. Priscilla Chan and Mark Zuckerberg in 2015, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is a new kind of philanthropy that’s leveraging technology to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges — from eradicating disease, to improving education, to reforming the criminal justice system. Across three core initiative focus areas of science, education, and justice and opportunity, we’re pairing engineering with grant-making, impact investing and policy and advocacy work to help build an inclusive, just and healthy future for everyone. For more information, please visit www.chanzuckerberg.com
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