As the size and scale of life sciences datasets increases — think large-cohort longitudinal studies with multiple samples and multiple protocols — so does the challenge of storing, interpreting and analyzing this data. Researchers and data scientists are under increasing pressure to identify the most relevant and critical information within massive and messy data sets, so they can quickly make the next discovery to positively impact human health. To help meet these demands, we need new standards, policies and technologies to gain better insight into data and shorten the time to discovery. Better standards for the secure sharing of genomics data will not only allow doctors to make timelier and more informed clinical decisions, but will also greatly increase the quality of clinical research, ultimately leading to new and improved therapies.
Secure sharing can sometimes seem like a contradiction in terms. One approach that avoids this contradiction is a private cloud that offers the ability to securely and efficiently share data with collaborators who may be located anywhere around the globe. Such clouds are a cost-effective way to store project data for the longer term in an active archive, thus allowing re-analysis of older data when protocols change or when sufficient data accumulates to allow for a meaningful population study. The seamless integration of high-performance storage with private clouds allows for a best-of-breed infrastructure, as well as data management, from the moment data comes off sequencers or other instruments through the complete research data lifecycle.
Recently, DataDirect Networks (DDN) was encouraged to join the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health — a group of more than 200 of the world’s leading research and healthcare institutions across more than 40 countries around the world — to bring this vision and expertise on best practices in data collaboration and storage management, to life. The alliance is working to accelerate world-wide efforts to responsibly share and analyze large amounts of genomic and clinical information.
Through the alliance, partners will help develop common approaches and appropriate standards necessary to enable clinical applications and academic research to thrive. DDN’s participation in the alliance is aimed at helping to shorten time to discovery, simplify collaboration and eliminate the barriers to research that are created by current information-silos and the inefficiencies of legacy storage systems. By contributing cloud and big data technology best practices, DDN hopes to enable greater levels of innovation and accelerated discovery for the world’s leading data-driven research and healthcare organizations around the world.
George Vacek is life sciences global director at DataDirect Networks. He may be reached at editor@ScientificComputing.com.