ERCIM News No.43 - October 2000 [contents]

The European Molecular Computing Consortium

by Grzegorz Rozenberg

The rapidly expanding research on DNA Computing in the US and in Japan has already been channelled there into national projects with very substantial financial support. The growth of DNA Computing in Europe has been somewhat slower, although a number of European researchers have participated in the development of DNA Computing from the very beginning of this research area. In 1998 a number of research groups in Europe took the initiative to create the European Molecular Computing Consortium (EMCC) officially established in July 1998 during the DNA Computing Days organized by the Leiden Center for Natural Computing in Leiden.

Countries currently participating in the European Molecular Computing Consortium.The EMCC is a scientific organisation of researchers in DNA Computing and is composed of national groups from 11 European countries. The EMCC activities are coordinated by the EMCC Board consisting of: Grzegorz Rozenberg (The Netherlands) - director, Martyn Amos (United Kingdom) - deputy director, Giancarlo Mauri (Italy) - secretary, and Marloes Boon-van der Nat (The Netherlands) - administrative secretary. The purpose of the EMCC is best expressed in its official document ‘Aims and Visions’ which now follows.

Molecular computing is a novel and exciting development at the interface of Computer Science and Molecular Biology. Computation using DNA or proteins, for example, has the potential for massive parallelism, allowing trillions of operations per second. Such a parallel molecular computer will have huge implications, both for theoreticians and practitioners. Traditional definitions of computation are being re-defined in the light of recent theoretical and experimental developments. Although thriving, the field of molecular computing is still at an early stage in its development, and a huge and concerted effort is required to assess and exploit its real potential.

The European Molecular Computing Consortium has been created in order to co-ordinate, foster and expand research in this exciting new field, especially in Europe. The EMCC is the result of discussions between different research groups in nine different European countries. A key function of the consortium is to foster co-operation between scientific, technological and industrial partners. A particular effort will be made to create genuinely multi-disciplinary co-operation between Computer Science, Molecular Biology, and other relevant scientific areas. The EMCC will organize various research-enhancing activities such as conferences, workshops, schools, and mutual visits that will provide forums for the exchange of results, and for establishing or strengthening existing co-operations in the field of molecular computing. The EMCC will also actively seek to promote the field, both within the scientific community and to the public at large, via scientific publications, seminars, workshops and public lectures. All participating sites will make the utmost effort to develop their theoretical and laboratory resources. It is hoped that all of these combined efforts will allow the field of molecular computing to thrive in Europe.

The EMCC will also strive to establish and maintain fruitful cooperation with researchers in the area of molecular computing from outside Europe, and in particular with the project ‘Consortium for Biomolecular Computing’ in the US and with the Japanese ‘Molecular Computer Project’.

EMCC web page: http://www.csc.liv.ac.uk/~emcc/

Please contact:
Grzegorz Rozenberg - Leiden Center for Natural Computing, Leiden University
Tel: +31 71 5277061/67
E-mail: rozenber@liacs.nl