The structure of IHEC is based on a distributed organizational model. This model has been successfully used in other international genome projects, and relies on the interaction among funders (providing oversight), and international scientific steering committee (setting guidelines) and scientific groups and centers (data production centers, regional or national-level data analysis and coordination centers). The strength of the Consortium’s structure lies not only in its component parts, but also in the bilateral flow of information between the groups.
The Committees in detail
IHEC Executive Committee (EXEC)
Oversight of the IHEC is provided by the IHEC Executive Committee (EXEC), constituted of individuals nominated by the IHEC Funding Members. The Executive Committee:
- reviews and accepts nominations of new Members
- works closely with the International Scientific Steering Committee
- revises and adopts new recommendations related to IHEC policies
- tracks data deposition, data quality, and data accessibility across projects
- periodically provides data updates to funding agencies
- provides a forum for resolution of any conflicts, should they arise
- provides a forum to resolve conflicting issues
- makes recommendations concerning the recruitment of consultants or establish expert committees on issues related to science, law, IPR, ethics, funding, communications, etc.
- develops a communication strategy, with special focus on communication with the public
A key responsibility of the Executive Committee is to discuss IHEC policies and guidelines, and revise these as issues such as technological improvements arise.
International Scientific Steering Committee (ISSC)
An International Scientific Steering Committee (ISSC) is comprised of lead scientists of projects and principal scientific leaders in the field of epigenetics. This group interacts frequently, through phone conferences, e-mail and regular meetings, to:
- act as scientific coordinating body
- assess progress
- address arising issues of scientific nature
- encourage exchange of the best protocols and practices
- establish temporary or permanent subcommittees to complete focused tasks
- establish quality standards
- facilitate data dissemination to the scientific community
Data Coordination Center
The Data Coordination Center manages data flow from projects and centers to the IHEC database and public repositories in coordination with national or regional Data Analysis and 12 coordination centers. In cases where patient protection requires an access controlled database, the DCC will provide a summary of the data available and indicate how access to the data can be obtained. The Data Coordination Center will provide regular progress reports to the EXEC and ISSC.
The Data Coordination Center also coordinates data quality standards which will be required for each contributing Data Production Center. These quality assessments focus on evaluation of a standardized cell model which are distributed to all centers for evaluation by epigenomic assays. The resulting data is evaluated by the Data Coordination Center and collaborating national or regional Data Analysis and Coordination Centers to ensure accuracy and uniformity for each production center and across the Consortium.
There are currently six workgroups on the following topics:
- Metadata Standards
- Data Ecosystem
- Maker Paper
- Assay Standards