Dealing with the data

In a collaboration to support biomedical research and data management, Broad Institute's Genome Analysis Toolkit will be offered on the Google Cloud Platform as part of Google Genomics

Kelsey Kaustinen
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CAMBRIDGE, Mass.—In hopes of tackling some of the technical obstacles in the way of research, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard has joined forces with Google Genomics to address the need for computing infrastructure capable of storing and processing the vast datasets generated by today's research and to create tools to analyze that data.
“Large-scale genomic information is accelerating scientific progress in cancer, diabetes, psychiatric disorders, and many other diseases,” Eric Lander, president and director of the Broad Institute, said in a press release. “Storing, analyzing and managing these data is becoming a critical challenge for biomedical researchers. We are excited to work with Google’s talented and experienced engineers to develop ways to empower researchers around the world by making it easier to access and use genomic information.”
Under this non-exclusive partnership, the Broad Institute’s Genome Analysis Toolkit (GATK) will be offered as a service on the Google Cloud Platform as part of Google Genomics. GATK is a software package developed by the Broad Institute for the analysis of high-throughput genomic sequencing data and offers a range of analysis tools, with a primary focus on genetic variant discovery and genotyping and data quality assurance. This availability will allow genomic researchers to upload, store and analyze data in a cloud-based environment.
With this offering, researchers can upload genetic data and run GATK-powered analyses on Google Cloud Platform, and can even use GATK to analyze genetic data that is already available for research via Google Genomics.

This collaboration fits in well with both organizations' goals and standards, Jonathan Bingham, product manager for Google Genomics, wrote on the Google Cloud Platform blog. Google Genomics was formed “to help the life-science community organize the world’s genomic information and make it accessible and useful,” and the Broad, he noted, “has collected and either sequenced or genotyped the equivalent of more than 1.4 million biological samples. Just as important, Broad has developed and openly shared many of the most trusted methods for processing the resulting data, enabling valuable scientific discoveries, with hundreds of published findings in top journals.”

“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. 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. We are at the beginning of a genomics-driven healthcare revolution, and it’s a privilege to be contributing to it with organizations like the Broad,” wrote Jonathan Bingham, product manager for Google Genomics, on the Google Cloud Platform blog.
The Broad Institute and Google are both members of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH), which was launched in 2013 to create a shared framework to enable genomic and clinical data sharing while ensuring data privacy and security. The Broad Institute is a founding host institution of the alliance, and Google joined early last year. The services offered through this collaboration between the Broad Institute and Google will be designed to align with GA4GH standards.
“Broad and Google share a culture of collaboration and open access to data,” commented 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.”

Kelsey Kaustinen

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