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Providing Cloud Cover For Biology

By Rob Mitchum // March 6, 2014

Many biologists now find themselves getting deeper into computational methods as cheaper and easier genetic sequencing creates larger data challenges. But if a biologist gets too caught up in managing their new IT demands, it can be a time sink and a distraction from their original scientific goals. With the launch last year of Globus Genomics, CI researchers created a platform to move many of those analysis and data management tasks to the cloud, simplifying procedures and helping researchers save time and money.

On May 1st, CI fellow Ravi Madduri will present Globus Genomics and other Globus services at the BioIT World Expo in Boston. In advance of Madduri’s presentation, he recently did an interview with BioIT World’s An-Dinh Nguyen on the need for cloud-based science-as-a-service.

“Researchers who are trained in bioinformatics or biology, they spend more time than they need to in the computational and IT aspects of their science,” Madduri says in the interview. “Like setting up analysis pipelines, figuring out how to run things at scale, figuring out how to move data around. So to some extent, researchers do spend a lot of time on the mundane aspects of data management and analysis, rather than spending time on their science and doing more innovative analysis that they need to do.”

In the interview, Madduri talks about how his experience working on computational infrastructure for physics, earthquake, and climate research has been applicable as biology and medicine make their first forays into the world of big data.

“The work that I’ve done in various other scientific domains has been very relevant to the life sciences domain, especially in the area of next-gen sequencing,” Madduri said. “We apply these techniques to proteomics, imaging analysis and other domains in life sciences with great success.”

Madduri also highlights how science-as-a-service can facilitate reproducible research, preserving data and analysis pipelines so that other scientists can reproduce and build upon previous work much more efficiently.

“Our goal is to have Globus Genomics as a platform that researchers can use to do innovative research, build analysis pipelines, publish them and be able to share with their collaborators,” Madduri said. “By providing a persistent infrastructure, we hope it will pave the way to create more reproducible research papers.”

You can listen to the full interview at the Bio-IT World website (registration required), or below.​

Madduri also recently did a video interview with Amazon Web Services, which provides the reliable and scalable cloud-based scaffolding for many Globus services. In the video, he discusses how Globus Genomics helps simplify data analysis, archiving, and transfers for researchers, and how the creation of HIPAA-compliant data centers will spur medical research in the future. You can watch the video below.


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