At this week’s Bio-IT World Conference in Boston, genomic research is set to take center stage. With the rapid advancements in the field in the last decade, researchers are primed to deliver even greater progress in the near future.
“Since the inception of the Human Genome Project, this field has moved quickly,” shared David LaBrosse, NetApp Global Solutions Manager, Genomics. In part, LaBrosse attributes the remarkable achievements that researchers have accomplished to the significant funding the field has received from both public and private sources, and also to technologies specifically developed to support this type of data-driven research.
“While researchers have already created petabytes of data to advance our journey towards truly personalized medicine, they’re about to unleash a tsunami of data. The latest genomic sequencers can create terabytes of data a day and even the best funded research facilities are having a hard time processing, analyzing, managing, and moving this data to put it to work to deliver results,” LaBrosse commented.
Data mobility is a challenge both public and private sector research organizations face. Effective collaboration requires data movement between different researchers, institutions, and organizations. “Getting data out of silos into more flexible cloud services models is essential to the on-going success of genomic research,” said LaBrosse. Because genomic research is a global enterprise it is highly unusual for research to be conducted in just one country.
The field has been so successful in large part because it is collaborative, so institutions and private businesses are eager to continue to remove obstacles. “Each research organization is going to have its own methodology for data storage. While some data can be stored in a public cloud, because of the nature of the research, there’s still a distinct need for private clouds and on-premise storage. In the end, most will take a hybrid approach so they can leverage the security of private storage, while reaping the benefits of moving and sharing data in a cost-effective, secure, and compliant manner via cloud,” LaBrosse noted.
The compliance burden on researchers and healthcare providers isn’t getting any easier. Not only do companies, research facilities, and hospitals have to comply with HIPAA, HITECH and other in-country regulations, but when GDPR comes into effect later this month, there will be a new, global, level of responsibility for data handling. Moreover these regulations are coming into effect at the point that maintaining the identity of patient data is essential to achieving the ‘end goal’ of genomic research. “Genomic research accelerates the development of personalized therapies to advance and improve outcomes,” LaBrosse cites as an example. “There’s a need to maintain the identity of a patient’s genomic data to compare results to their electronic health record (EHR). However, the overlapping data sources can increase the risk of privacy and security breaches,” he shared.
With these cautions in mind, LaBrosse is excited about where genomic research is today and how quickly it will be able to progress because of the equally rapid innovation in data management technologies. He credits the development of the NetApp Data Fabric as a key to managing data and making it mobile to meet the needs of researchers, where it acts like a connective tissue to enable mobility.
“To borrow an oft-used phrase in the health sciences community, the Data Fabric ensures that researchers and physicians can access the right data at the right location, at the right time, which is essential to delivering precision medical care,” LaBrosse concluded.
Want to continue to learn more about how data can be put to work to support groundbreaking research? You can catchup with David LaBrosse, the NetApp team and reseller partner, EchoStor Technologies, at Booth 323 on the show floor, or at Bio-IT After Hours @Lawn on D, Wednesday from 7-10pm.