Cloud-Based Genomics

An academic-commercial partnership launches the largest cloud-based genomics project to date.

Oct 28, 2013
Kerry Grens

WIKIMEDIA, VLADIMER SHIOSHVILIBaylor College of Medicine's Human Genome Sequencing Center (HGSC) is looking to the cloud for large-scale genomic analyses. According to a press release from Baylor, a collaboration between the university, DNAnexus, and Amazon Web Services is the largest cloud-based genomics effort date, having sequenced and stored 3,751 whole human genomes and 10,771 exomes. “In terms of analysis, the future of genomic research and genomic medicine is in the cloud. We are very much going towards more computing and not less,” Jeffrey Reid, an assistant professor in the Human Genome Sequencing Center, said in the release.

The genomics collaborative, executed with next-generation sequencing, aims to find genetic variants that relate to heart disease and aging. More than 300 researchers have access to the HIPAA-certified data—all 440 terabytes of it.

“Having access to this much data was unique,” said Reid in a press release. Most universities don't have the computing resources to handle such volume, he added. “Working with DNAnexus and Amazon Web Services, we were able to rapidly deploy a cloud-based solution that allows us to scale up our support to researchers at the HGSC . . . enabling what will be the largest genomic analysis project to have ever taken place in the cloud.”