Leading Genome Research Center Migrates to DNAnexus on Azure

DNAnexus on Microsoft AzureToday we announced that the trusted DNAnexus genome informatics and data management platform is now also available on Microsoft Azure, Microsoft’s open, flexible, enterprise-grade cloud computing platform. Leveraging Azure, DNAnexus provides organizations a single, secure, scalable, and collaborative platform to accelerate the application of genomics within healthcare and research. The Stanford Center for Genomics and Personalized Medicine (SCGPM) is the first organization to access DNAnexus on Azure.

scgpmA key advantage to conducting genomic research in the cloud is the enhanced collaboration facilitated by data accessibility, consistency, and scalability. SCGPM researchers already have existing collaborations on the DNAnexus Platform hosted by Amazon Web Services, by extending adoption of DNAnexus on Azure means that researchers can collaborate even more widely. By leveraging DNAnexus on Azure’s powerful data-handling capabilities, a distributed network of scientists and researchers have secure access to terabytes of data through a common user interface.

DNAnexus and Microsoft are both valued partners to Stanford’s core sequencing facility. SCGPM and David Heckerman, distinguished scientist and director of Microsoft Genomics, have been in close collaboration for years. By extending the DNAnexus Platform to Azure, it is now easier for SCGPM researchers to work closely with David’s team. We believe we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg in terms of the potential for medical discovery.

DNAnexus is proud to support SCGPM on its mission to translate genomics into patient-centered medicine, and we look forward to enabling the discoveries that unfold.

DNAnexus on Microsoft AzureInnovation Through Collaboration

Through additional partnerships, Microsoft recently developed computational methods to accelerate the best practices pipeline for genome resequencing sevenfold. By improving the efficiency of the Burrows-Wheeler Aligner (BWA) and Genome Analysis Toolkit (GATK), researchers and medical professionals are able to get actionable results in just four hours, compared to the previous twenty-eight. This is critical for medical professionals to accelerate diagnosis and treatment for patients.

Genomic sequencing and analysis has become a key component of the diagnosis and treatment of cancer and other genetic conditions. This effort has both relied on and stimulated innovative technologies. At DNAnexus, we firmly believe that in order to continue innovating and further break down the technical barriers to disease, community collaboration is essential. The sharing of data and ideas between organizations – and even industries – spurs the innovation critical to medical breakthroughs. Microsoft is a global leader in technological innovation, and by partnering with leading research centers, universities, and the private sector, it is poised to make great contributions to the genomics revolution.

The DNAnexus Platform sits at the forefront of cloud-based data security, compliance, and controlled access. By co-developing with DNAnexus, Microsoft will be able to deploy their tools into an investigative environment while leveraging extensive research experience. We are excited to be collaborating with Microsoft and to offer these cutting-edge bioinformatics tools available to the genomics community via the DNAnexus Platform in the future.

Facilitating Collaboration on DNAnexus

The need for enhanced collaboration is a trend in the genomics industry we have been following for a while. DNAnexus equips end-users with out-of-the-box clinical compliance and streamlines communication between healthcare providers, reducing information silos for more efficient collaboration.

However, this notion of partnership goes deeper than groups of scientists working together to parse through datasets. Innovation and exploration are best served through collaboration, thus successful innovation in the genomics industry also relies on disparate industries working together towards a common goal. By tapping into the genomics network, the community is able to learn from each other to advance research, leading to accelerated medicine and tailored patient care.

DNAnexus is excited about the opportunity to partner with Microsoft, given their commitment to advancing the field of genomics, and their depth and breadth of experience offering solutions to the healthcare industry.

Launching the China Precision Medicine Cloud

Congratulations to WuXi AppTec, WuXi NextCODE and Huawei on launching their world-leading China China Precision Medicine CloudPrecision Medicine Cloud platform. The announcement took place at a ceremony in Shanghai on May 24, 2016 bringing together leaders and experts of the Chinese Precision Medicine community. The China Precision Medicine Cloud platform combines WuXi AppTech’s leading open-access R&D capabilities, WuXi NextCODE’s genomic data analysis capabilities, and China’s premier cloud platform powered by DNAnexus. This platform ultimately will benefit patients by accelerating efficiency and effectiveness of disease diagnostics, treatment, and prevention made possible by the sharing and managing of genomic data in the cloud.

We are excited to be working with WuXi NextCode to bring cloud-based genomics to China, and to bring Chinese genomics to the world. DNAnexus provides security, scalability, and collaboration for enterprises and institutions that are pursuing genomic-based approaches to health in order to accelerate medical discovery.

The DNAnexus-WuXi NextCODE partnership also enables research, drug development, and clinical diagnostic testing worldwide. The DNAnexus technology is providing the security and compliance for the China Precision Medicine Cloud to meet the guidelines developed by the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA). In the United States, DNAnexus has experience with precisionFDA, a key component of a similar initiative supported by the US Government. Additionally, the DNAnexus Platform has attained US CAP, CLIA, and HIPAA certification, supported by safeguards that are available for all of the company’s customers globally.

We look forward to continuing to work with WuXi AppTec, WuXi NextCode and Huawei to create the first unified platform for precision medicine in China.

The Rising Tide of Genomic Data Points to the Cloud

No other market segment has felt the profound impact of the cloud more than the life sciences industry. In March, a major roadblock was eliminated when the National Institutes of Health lifted its ban on the use of government datasets (dbGaP, TCGA, etc.) in the cloud and updated its security best practices white paper. In the past, individual researchers would download data hosted from a variety of locations, attempt to integrate their own data, and run analyses on their local hardware; a time-consuming endeavor wrought with headaches. This approach has become unsustainable given that data sizes have grown exponentially as the cost of genome sequencing has been driven down. There is now a collective push within the genomics research community to create a cloud commons, something in which DNAnexus wholeheartedly believes.

Just how much data are we talking about? According to recent research, Earth contains around 5.3 x 1037 DNA base pairs. They add: “By analogy, it would require 1021 computers with the mean storage capacity of the world’s four most powerful supercomputers (Tianhe-2, Titan, Sequoia, and K computer) to store this information.”

Platform logoFortunately, no one has been asked to manage the DNA for our entire planet’s biomass, but the research points to a very real challenge. With this rising tide of data comes the need for more computational resources, and the question of whether to build or buy infrastructure comes into play. A recent article in The Platform, takes a fascinating dive into how the genomics community is utilizing life sciences clouds. In her article, author Nicole Hemsoth (@NicoleHemsoth) raises the issue of “what life sciences companies are missing is a management system for dealing with petabytes of data and billions of objects.”

She continues to discuss how as the sophistication of data management, storage, compute, security and compliance features become hardened, bursting into the cloud is the most efficient way to utilize local and cloud resources. While most large-scale genome centers have their own local infrastructure, their workloads tend to occur in spikes. In order to mitigate overprovisioning, genome centers are finding their sweet spot by combining in-house infrastructure with bursting into the cloud. And with the advent of genomics cloud solutions such as DNAnexus, there are ways to seamlessly integrate workloads to the cloud.

Another notable trend we’re seeing is how life science companies like Regeneron Genetics Center are moving to a 100% cloud-based solution. Instead of the heavy investment that comes with managing and maintaining IT infrastructure, companies can invest in intellectual property; shifting their focus to R&D to accelerate medical discovery.

While freeing up bandwidth on building and maintaining local hardware is a big appeal for the cloud, the real reason institutions decide to go with DNAnexus is for its genomics platform’s state-of-the-art compliance and security measures. While it’s true Amazon Web Services offers a lot of built-in features to ensure security and privacy and potentially any skilled engineer can go out and spin up Amazon EC2 instances themselves, when handling personal health information it’s just not that simple. DNAnexus has invested a tremendous amount of resources in creating a genomics platform that complies with ISO 27001 international security standards and provides data provenance to certify all operations can be tracked and reported for up to 6 years.

Just as there isn’t one way to genotype, there isn’t one way to take your data to the cloud. The field is constantly evolving, which means you’re constantly doing variant call bake-offs, working with many different tools to assess whether you are getting the correct variants of interest. The important question to ask is how will you manage all these diverse data and research requirements? Do you want to do it yourself or go with a proven genomics platform that offers a complete set of systems already in place to control and manage your data? DNAnexus can help. Drop us a line when you’re ready.