Amazon and NIH to link biomedical data and researchers

Oct. 25, 2018

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced the addition of Amazon Web Services (AWS) to its Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation, and Sustainability (STRIDES) Initiative. Launched in July of this year, STRIDES aims to partner with and harness the power of commercial cloud computing for NIH biomedical researchers and make high-value data and technology-intensive research more accessible to them.

The partnership is expected to speed up discoveries in biomedical research, according to Teresa Carlson, vice president of Worldwide Public Sector at AWS. “We’re committed to providing those researchers participating in the STRIDES Initiative with access to high-value NIH datasets, enabling them to further their research to study, treat and prevent the most devastating diseases.”

Amazon Web Services is a subsidiary of Amazon.com that provides on-demand cloud computing platforms-on a paid subscription basis-to governments, companies, and individuals. The service allows subscribers to have access to a virtual cluster of computers, available all the time, through the Internet.

Administrators of STRIDES hope that data made available through partnerships with commercial cloud service providers (CSPs) like AWS will incorporate standards endorsed by the biomedical research community to make data Findable, Accessible, Interoperable, and Reusable (FAIR). They also want the associations to work directly with the NIH and its funded investigators to develop and test new ways to make large data sets and associated computational tools available and accessible by wider audiences. The CSPs and investigators of the NIH Data Commons Pilot Phase will set up cloud storage and services for three test case data sets that will be used to develop principles, policies, and processes. Services are expected to become available to the NIH-supported community after a series of these pilot programs refine policies and procedures for the program.

The three NIH-funded test case data sets were chosen based on their value to users in the biomedical research community, the diversity of the data they contain, and their coverage of both basic and clinical research, the NIH said. According to the NIH, Data Commons efforts will expand to include other data resources once the pilot phase has achieved its primary objectives. For now, the three data sets include the following:

  • Genotype-Tissue Expression (GTEx)
  • Alliance of Genome Resources
  • Trans-Omics for Precision Medicine (TOPMed)

The NIH says the agreement with AWS will help its own researchers, as well as scientists and investigators at more than 2,500 academic institutions across the United States receiving NIH support, make use of AWS’s wide range of technologies.

Forbes has the full story

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