Cloud Computing

Broad Institute and Google to Offer Genomic Analysis Tools in the Cloud

With a little help from Google, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard is tackling the need for computing infrastructure to store and process the enormous datasets involved in biomedical research. The institute is partnering with Google Genomics to offer its Genome Analysis Toolkit (GATK) as a service on the Google Cloud Platform, enabling genomic researchers to upload, store and analyze data in a scalable, high-performance environment.

Developed at the Broad Institute, GATK is a software package designed to analyze high-throughput genomic sequencing data, with a focus on genetic variant discovery and genotyping as well as a data quality assurance. It is already available for download at no cost for academic and non-profit users; a paid license is available for business users. To date, more than 20,000 users have processed genomic data using GATK, according to a press release.

The Google Genomics service will open up the capabilities of GATK to researchers who don't have access to the dedicated compute infrastructure and engineering teams required for analyzing genomic data at scale.

"Large-scale genomic information is accelerating scientific progress in cancer, diabetes, psychiatric disorders, and many other diseases," said Eric Lander, president and director of Broad Institute, in a statement. "Storing, analyzing, and managing these data is becoming a critical challenge for biomedical researchers. We are excited to work with Google's talented and experienced engineers to develop ways to empower researchers around the world by making it easier to access and use genomic information."

For its initial alpha release, the GATK cloud service will be made available to a limited set of users. Broad Institute said it will continue to support and upgrade GATK for all users, both on site and in the cloud, and will continue to offer the software directly.

About the Author

About the author: Rhea Kelly is executive editor for Campus Technology. She can be reached at rkelly@1105media.com.

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