LSUHSC Bioinformatics and Genomics Program in the Cloud – No More Genomics Snail Mail 

Chindo Hicks, Ph.D. (Department of Genetics)

LSUHSC-SOM’s Bioinformatics and Genomics (BIG) Program, in partnership with University of Chicago’s Computational Institute and through a National Cancer Institute grant, have deployed the Globus platform. This new and advanced cloud-based computing platform supports the transfer, management and sharing of big and multi-omics data among investigators. LSUHSC investigators can now use this cloud-based platform to transfer and share big data and large-scale multi-platform and multi-omics data with their collaborating partners around the country and around the world.  The project is led jointly by Dr. Ian T. Foster (PI), Arthur Holly Compton Distinguished Service Professor of Computer Science and Director of the Data Science and Learning division at Argonne National Laboratory, the creator of the Globus platform; and Dr. Chindo Hicks, Professor of Genetics and Director of LSUHSC-SOM’s BIG Program (PI for the LSUHSC site).

The platform includes Globus Genomics, a cloud-based, elastic system for genomics analysis in the cloud. The platform addresses the needs of researchers, allows management of big data, and provides additional computation resources by providing frictionless access to advanced scientific computing capabilities and an easy way to deliver these capabilities to a broad user base through data sharing.

Whether the genotyping or sequencing is done at campus core facilities or off-site at an external vendor, for example at the Broad Institute in Boston or the HudsonAlpha Institute of Biotechnology in Alabama, moving hundreds of Terabytes of data over an FTP connection or by sending hard drives through the mail by FedEx can be a slow, error-prone process and can compromise data security. The Globus platform allows for the rapid transfer of dozens of exome sequences to BIG’s Bioinformatics and Computational Genomics laboratory. Instead of sending hard drives, it’s now easier for researchers at LSUHSC to just get data transferred electronically. Therefore, “no more genomics snail mail for LSUHSC investigators and cooperating partners.

The BIG and Globus teams are currently working on linking LSUHSC high-performance computing platforms with the Amazon, Google, IBM and the Microsoft Azure cloud computing platforms using the Globus platform.  This will allow us to leverage LSUHSC-SOM resources and to be more competitive as we develop the LSUHSC genomics research enterprise and reposition our cancer center to achieve comprehensive designation from the NCI. In addition to deploying the Globus platform and the data delivery, sharing and analysis pipeline, the BIG and Globus teams are conducting training workshop seminars for LSUHSC investigators.

Investigators who are interesting in learning more about the platform should contact Dr. Chindo Hicks, Globus PI for the LSUHSC Site at chick3@lsuhsc.edu or the LSUHSC Bioinformatics team at https://www.medschool.lsuhsc.edu/bioinformatics/

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