1 May 2014
The Canadian government has announced $7.3 million funding via the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) for a major new collaborative venture in genomic cancer research.
The vast volumes of genomic data arising from the application of new, rapid DNA sequencing technologies apparently now extend into the petabyte range, a petabyte representing 1000 terabytes. Analysis of these data could reveal important information about the genomic changes associated with cancer formation and progression, and open new avenues for prevention, diagnosis, prognosis and treatment. The barrier is the sheer volume of data and the computing power required to process it.
The new funding will support a project to develop new data-mining tools for cancer genome analysis along with a new cloud computing facility, the Cancer Genome Collaboratory. This facility, expected to open in 2016, will be able to process up to 15 petabytes of data from the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC) derived from cancers in some 25,000 patients around the world. The ICGC recently passed the 10,000 mark for cancer genome sequences made publicly available to researchers (see previous news).
The project is a partnership between the NESRC and other bodies including Genome Canada, the Canada Foundation for Innovation, and the Canadian Institutes of Health Research. The University of Chicago is to provide computing resources for the project and initial genomic data will come from the ICGC based in Toronto.
Canada is in a position to produce the genomics-based tools, knowledge and discoveries needed to prevent and cure cancer”.