Genome analysis support centre announces new initiatives to foster discovery

14 Jan 2013 Bloomington - Now entering its second year of operation, the National Center for Genome Analysis Support (NCGAS) provides software, expert consultation and computational resources to help life science researchers analyze genome data. NCGAS is expanding its reach by adding tools, services and partners to help biological research communities make important new scientific discoveries.

In conjunction with its participation in the Plant and Animal Genome Conference (PAG XXI), NCGAS announced three initiatives to accelerate US public and private sector research and development in biology and biomedical research:

  • New NSF-funded facilities partner. The Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center (PSC) is now an NCGAS partner, joining Indiana University's Pervasive Technology Institute (PTI), the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE), the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at the University of Texas at Austin and the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) at the University of California, San Diego. PSC will install genome analysis applications on its supercomputer, Blacklight, maximizing the system's large memory architecture.
  • New on-demand computing services. Indiana University and Penguin Computing Inc. have partnered to offer access to a high-performance cluster with large-memory nodes configured for genome assembly and equipped with genome analysis and bioinformatics software. This Penguin On-Demand HPC Service (POD) is available on a fee-for-service basis, and is particularly useful for NIH-funded researchers who need access to a large-memory cluster. In addition, the IU/Penguin service has been designated an Internet2 NET evaluation service, putting it one step closer to endorsement by Internet2 for use by the national research community.
  • New resources for private sector researchers. One of NCGAS's core missions is to provide information and open-source software resources to the US private sector and global medical research community. To that end, the centre is a repository for online information about genome data analysis - and it produces and distributes optimized versions of bioinformatics software, such as the improved Trinity RNA assembly software.

"Our partnership with the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center - paired with Penguin On-Demand resources and optimized software - will help NCGAS expand services to the US research community in important new ways", stated Craig Stewart, dean for IU Research Technologies, executive director of PTI and principal investigator on the NCGAS grant award.

William Barnett, NCGAS director, added: "It's exciting to think of the breakthroughs to come in the years ahead as we continue to provide tools and services to genome researchers, enabling innovative and potentially transformative genomics research."

Led by PTI, NCGAS is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) to help researchers retrieve useful biological information from the vast amounts of sequence data generated by research programmes. Only in its second year, the centre has already served hundreds of researchers and dozens of research projects. NCGAS is making its public debut at the Plant and Animal Genome conference - one of the world's largest conferences dedicated to genome science.

Its latest initiatives further the centre's mission to provide researchers with better bioinformatics support, freeing them to concentrate on the science surrounding their genomics projects - as opposed to their technology needs. Working with NCGAS also gives researchers access to powerful high performance computers and networks, improving the speed and quality of genome assemblies.

"The partnership between NCGAS and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center will significantly extend the capability of researchers to perform challenging genomic analyses", stated Phil Blood, senior scientific specialist at PSC. "Researchers using PSC resources have immediately benefited from NCGAS' work and are currently running a previously intractable set of large-scale Trinity assemblies on our 16 TB SGI UV system, Blacklight - the world's largest coherent shared memory platform."

Source: Indiana University