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GCC2023 group photo

More than 130 delegates from 20 countries attended last month’s international Galaxy Community Conference in Brisbane to discuss the bioinformatics platform’s latest developments. 

More than 90 attended GCC2023 in person at the Queensland University of Technology’s (QUT) The Cube facility, with 40 attending virtually. 

Galaxy Australia Project Lead Dr Gareth Price said the attendance numbers were close to last year’s conference in America. “Since we’re so far away from the traditional hosting sites in the USA and Europe, we’re very pleased that so many chose to travel to GCC2023 in person,” he said.

“There was a fantastic exchange between our [Galaxy Australia] team and international colleagues, and wonderful opportunities to engage with the global Galaxy community,” said Gareth. 

“The team left full of energy to keep improving Galaxy Australia and strengthen their collaborations with the wider Galaxy community.

“I’d like to thank everyone who participated in GCC2023, with a special thanks to Roberto Barrero Gumiel at QUT who not only gave a keynote speech but also organised the venue.”

Associate Professor Roberto Barrero Gumiel spoke about using Galaxy to improve plant industry access to new cultivars and species through faster and more accurate diagnostics of plant viruses and viroids. 

Other keynote speakers included Dr Carolyn Hogg from the University of Sydney who spoke about combining genomics and cloud technology to save Australian species, and Dr Kate Michie from the University of New South Wales, who spoke about recent advances in structural biology, including the use of Alphafold2 and deep learning. 

At GCC2023, Galaxy Australia team members from QCIF, Australian BioCommons, The University of Queensland, Melbourne Bioinformatics and AARNet presented on topics ranging from monitoring tool health to developing the recently released Galaxy Australia Genome Lab. 

Other QCIF bioinformatics staff who played key roles in GCC2023 included Dr Cameron (Cam) Hyde, Dr Sarah Williams, Dr Igor Makunin and Michael (Mike) Thang who acted as workshop trainers.

Cam also led a three-day Galaxy Collaboration Festival (CoFest) straight after the four days of GCC2023 in which participants worked together on solutions and enhancements for Galaxy, including expanding Galaxy’s tool set, documentation, training materials, code base and more.

Cam reported many CoFest activities, including planning a centralised repository for reference data (such as genome indexes), to be consumed by Galaxy servers globally; global data sharing to optimise the resourcing of Galaxy tools; and plans to implement a zip file upload and extraction facility for the Galaxy user interface.

“The conference was a four-day marathon of meeting, talking and sharing all things Galaxy,” said Cam. “CoFest gave people a chance to quietly reflect on this frenzied exchange of knowledge and implement some of the ideas stimulated by the event. Much of the work was around brainstorming and planning future projects rather than coding.”

A nice touch at GCC2023 were the tributes to Simon Gladman, who, as Galaxy Australia’s Technical Lead and a Senior Research Fellow at Melbourne Bioinformatics, was an organiser of GCC2023. 

Simon sadly passed away last year and was celebrated at GCC2023 with the announcement of the inaugural annual Simon Gladman Travel Grant. The $5,000 grant will be awarded to an Australian citizen who contributes to the Galaxy ecosystem and meets the selection criteria. 

Other nice moments, targeted to the conference’s international delegates, included extra-curricular tourist activities, such as a trip to Brisbane’s Lone Pine Koala Sanctuary to see koalas and kangaroos, and a visit to “The Gabba” stadium to see an Australian Football League (AFL) match, namely the Brisbane Lions versus West Coast Eagles.

All GCC2023 presentations will soon be freely available. If you’d like to receive the notification about recordings, and keep up with plans for GCC2024 in Brno, the Czech Republic, please subscribe to the BioCommons eNews or Galaxy Announcements.

GCC2023 was sponsored by BizDataLimagrainGalaxyWorks and GigaScience, and hosted by Galaxy Australia, Australian BioCommons and QUT.

Galaxy Australia is an Australian BioCommons service, jointly supported by the Australian Government’s National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS) through the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) and Bioplatforms Australia; the Queensland Government’s Research Infrastructure Co-investment Fund; and The University of Melbourne.

Managed by QCIF, Melbourne Bioinformatics and AARNet, Galaxy Australia is underpinned by computational resources provided by QCIF, AARNet, ARDC, The University of Melbourne, The University of Queensland, National Computational Infrastructure, and the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre.