Clinical OMICS

JAN-FEB 2017

Healthcare magazine for research scientists, labs, pathologists, hospitals, cancer centers, physicians and biopharma companies providing news articles, expert interviews and videos about molecular diagnostics in precision medicine

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28 Clinical OMICs January/February 2017 www.clinicalomics.com whelming amount of work to do and it shuts down our cluster when we try to do it.' When they move to the cloud: what would be months of work for them before, they can do in the cloud in hours, so that's obviously better," Dr. Shay- witz says. Further, because the hurdles to entry for NGS are now much lower, and don't require a significant IT back- bone, the lower sequencing costs combined with cloud computing have democratized genomic research. "You are putting the power of sequencing into sin- gle-researcher hands with things like [Illumina's desktop sequencer] MiSeq," says John Shon, VP, bioinformatics and data science at Illumina. "So even though some of the work has to happen on premises, you can have push-button analysis in the cloud." That's a far cry from just a few years ago, notes Shon, whose background includes stints with Jans- sen (a division of Johnson & Johnson) and Roche. "There were a lot of homegrown tools back then, almost exclusively local storage, and not very much was standardized at all," he says. "In the research setting: the data would be collected in one place, you'd have the molecular biology lab that did sample processing, you'd have a sequencing center, and the data would be sent to the bioinformatics groups. So it was not uncommon to have five or six different departments involved in that process." But the benefits of the cloud extend beyond more com- puting power and massive data storage, to providing an environment that fosters scientific collaboration on national and global scales. One example of how the cloud fosters collaborations is found in PrecisionFDA, the FDA's cloud- based collaborative portal that provides tools for research- ers, including reference genomes, allows participating organizations to upload their own data and share tools and analytic methods for querying genomic data. Launched in December 2015 as part of President Obama's Precision Medicine Initiative, PrecisionFDA to quickly grew to more than 1,500 researchers representing roughly 600 different companies and organizations. According to Taha Kass-Hout, M.D., FDA chief health infor- mation officer, roughly one-third of the partici- pants in PrecisionFDA hail from outside the U.S. "It's amazing to see how the global community is coming together, and they are contributing data, as well as software [to PrecisionFDA]," Dr. Kass-Hout notes in a 2016 online interview outlining the program. " T h e community is working toward advancing the regulatory science behind assuring the accuracy of the next-gen software for the human genome. To do that, we want to provide an environment to share some of the innovations happening in this field, as well as any reference materials they might have," Dr. Kass-Hout explains. "We also realized there are several members in the community that need the computation platform to help them do the heavy [data-]crunching. We consider it a social experiment behind advancing regulatory science behind NGS." "If you are looking for the opportunity to facilitate [collaboration] between distant facilities—because science is global and there is a need for global representation— there is hardly a better way to do it than the cloud," Dr. Shaywitz concludes. More Robust, More Secure It is no surprise that the major cloud-computing companies are the tech giants of the day: Amazon, Microsoft, IBM, and Google—companies that needed to make massive comput- ing investments in order to meet very short periods of peak demand. Amazon Web Services (AWS) had nearly one-third of the market at the end of 2015, according to research by Synergy Research Group, and among the top four compa- nies, all experienced growth across all industries exceeding 55% for the year. (continued from previous page) Moving to the cloud also alleviates organizations from having to invest in significant expertise in data handling and security. enisaksoy / Getty Images

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