Will Google Provide the Key to the Next Discovery in Genomics Research?

Google’s expansion into the medical technological field just keeps on growing. In this latest move, Google has announced that it is participating in a partnership with the Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT to work on genomics and biomedical research.

Partnership between computer powerhouse Google and research wizards at the Broad Institute

Regarding the partnership, Google posted on their blog, “In order to scale up by the next order of magnitude, Broad and Google will work together to explore how to build new tools and find new insights to propel biomedical research, using deep bioinformatics expertise, powerful analytics, and massive computing infrastructure. Collaboration between the world’s premier genomics and biomedical research center and the most advanced computing infrastructure can help develop a new generation of tools and services that will enable scientists – from large academic institutions, commercial organizations, or small research labs in remote corners of the world – to uncover a wealth of biological insight.”

The Google Cloud Platform houses a wealth of genomic and biomedical information

Abstract medical backgroundApproximately two years ago, Google Genomics broke ground and began working “to help the life science community organize the world’s genomic information and make it accessible and useful.”

Now with the partnerships it has developed, there are numerous additional opportunities for future applications. The Google Cloud Platform of stored data is continuing to stretch to epic proportions as it warehouses information for researchers across the globe.

“Through our collaboration with Broad Institute and our work with the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health and the life science community, we believe we can make a difference in improving human health,” read the blog post from Google. “By making it easier for researchers to ask big questions and find answers amid complexity, we hope to unleash scientific creativity that could significantly improve our understanding of health and disease.”

Offering researchers around the globe access to the Genome Analysis Toolkit

The partnership involves launching a limited alpha version of the Broad Institute’s Genome Analysis Toolkit (GATK) that will be available on the Google Cloud Platform. This newly available service will help researchers rapidly analyze genomic sequencing data.

“Broad and Google share a culture of collaboration and open access to data,” said David Glazer, director of Google Genomics. “Google Genomics is helping scientists make genomic information more accessible and useful. By making Broad’s GATK available through the Google Cloud Platform, we hope to accelerate great science.”

Academic researchers will have free access to the service, beyond the cost of using Google Cloud Platform. Meanwhile, business users will be required to purchase an additional license from the Broad Institute in order to access the software.

Here’s to hoping all that information helps further mankind toward a better future

“Large-scale genomic information is accelerating scientific progress in cancer, diabetes, psychiatric disorders, and many other diseases,” stated Eric Lander, president and director of the Broad Institute in a statement. “Storing, analyzing, and managing these data is becoming a critical challenge for biomedical researchers.”

The convenience of the GATK access on the cloud could save a lot of time, money, and resources. DNA sequencing creates an enormous amount of data. Presently, the Broad Institute has already genotyped and sequenced more than 1.4 million biological samples so far.

Processing these enormous amounts of data requires sophisticated technical resources. As Google pointed out, the GATK allows researchers to be assured that they are “processing their data according to the best practices, without worrying about managing IT infrastructure.”

Having so much information available in one place with international access could make a vast difference in biomedical research. Hopefully, it is used for the betterment of mankind. What are your thoughts on this topic?

—The Alternative Daily



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