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McMaster U Plans University-Wide Research Cloud

McMaster University in Ontario is planning to establish a university-wide cloud computing environment and infrastructure for use in integrated health biosystems and bioinformatics research.

Currently the university stores research data in separate databases, and typically the data is used by the original research team only, not shared across different studies. The proposed research cloud will store all of the data in a single database, making it easier for researchers to share data across studies and conduct higher performance analysis. Eventually, the research cloud could serve multiple institutions and research facilities.

The research cloud is part of a newly formed long-term relationship between the university and Cisco Canada. The company is contributing $2.1 million to the university as part of the agreement, including $1.6 million over eight years toward a new professorship in integrated health biosystems and $500,000 over five years toward a research chair in bioinformatics.

According to a news release from Cisco, the professorship in integrated health biosystems will help to establish a cloud-based computational infrastructure designed to manage, analyze, integrate, and distribute the data from biomedical research, clinical trials, and patient feedback. The research chair in bioinformatics will collaborate on a program in integrated health biosystems with the goal of integrating diverse biological datasets with clinical and environmental data between areas of biomedical research and healthcare.

"The chair in bioinformatics and the professorship in biosystems will allow us to increase our research capacity and capture the value of the exponentially increasing volumes of data generated by our researchers," said Patrick Deane, president and vice-chancellor of McMaster University, in a prepared statement.

According to Cisco, the research cloud will help researchers lower their operating costs and quickly adapt the computing environment as research needs dictate. The cloud-based model also supports a bring-your-own-device (BYOD) model of access, so researchers can securely access sensitive data from anywhere with an Internet connection.

McMaster is research university located in Hamilton, Ontario, serving more than 21,000 full-time undergraduate and 3,400 graduate students and employing more than 1,300 full-time faculty members.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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