High-Performance Computing and Big Data: a winning duo - Bull and the National Center for Genome Analysis in Barcelona speed up gene sequencing

25 Jun 2014 Paris - Bull and the National Center for Genome Analysis in Barcelona - one of the leading gene research establishments in Europe - are set to speed up DNA sequencing using High-Performance Computing (HPC) and Big Data. The use of HPC will enable genomics to move forward at such a pace that will lead to personalized medicine: the challenge being to achieve better health and a better quality of life.

All the genetic material in an individual's genome is often compared to an encyclopedia, with chromosomes representing the different volumes and genes are the sentences within these volumes. So genome research manages massive amounts of data, which requires huge computer processing and storage capacity. The answer is biomedical supercomputing. By eliminating the bottlenecks that often occur in data analysis and storing that data more efficiently, it is possible to carry out sequencing on a mammoth scale.

The National Center for Genome Analysis in Barcelona manages large-scale DNA sequencing and analysis projects, to stay ahead in the European race in the highly strategic field of genomics. Its capacity of more than 800 sequencing Gbases/day - equivalent to sequencing eight full human genomes a day - makes it one of the most important centres in Europe.

"The challenge in genomics is such", commented Ivo G. Gut, Director of CNAG, "that it cannot be met with traditional computing. The solution is not to increase the number of sequencers. The key lies in the balance between sequencing and HPC. It is not only about increasing sequencing capacity by acquiring new hardware, but designing an appropriate computing infrastructure - from A to Z - with the help of a technology partner that has extensive experience in the field of genomics. It is also essential to choose a flexible infrastructure that can grow without limits, to keep pace with genome projects."

"The full implementation of genomics in public health systems involves resolving certain specific scientific and technological challenges: these latest are the ones that Bull is determined to meet using its supercomputing capabilities", stated Natalia Jiménez, Senior Health and Life Sciences Adviser in Bull.

Currently, the centre makes a significant contribution to three major international initiatives: the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC), the International Rare Diseases Research Consortium (IRDiRC) and the International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC).
Source: Bull