Home AI and ML National Institute of Aging Leverages Cloud Computing to Discover New Disease Information

National Institute of Aging Leverages Cloud Computing to Discover New Disease Information

by Jackie Davis

The 2019 Federal Cloud Computing Strategy encourages agencies to adopt the cloud and offers them guidance on procurement, security, and policy. Being Cloud Smart encourages agencies to move data, assets, and workloads to the cloud to provide savings, security, and essential services to the citizens they serve. The National Institute of Aging is one agency that has implemented cloud computing to better deliver on its mission.

“By updating an outdated policy, Cloud Smart embraces best practices from both the federal government and the private sector, ensuring agencies have the capability to leverage leading solutions to better serve agency mission, drive improved citizen services and increase cybersecurity,” said Suzette Kent, former Federal Chief Information Officer.

The National Institute of Aging has partnered with Google Cloud to gain powerful insights into the genomics that impact Parkinson’s disease. Through work with the International Parkinson’s Disease Genomics Consortium, NIA scientists study and identify molecular changes that cause the disease. Recently, a study combing the exome data of various research organizations began, but to make this data useable, it needed to be reanalyzed. Realignment, recalibration, and re-genotyping was just the beginning.

The consortium had to process over 6,500 exomes – something that member’s current resources couldn’t handle. To process the data swiftly and securely, the consortium turned to Google Genomics, a managed service on Google Cloud. Mike Nalls, a scientist with the consortium, handled the raw, sequenced data and was able to find variant cells that led to the discovery of six new risk biomarkers for Parkinson’s disease.

“Cloud computing allowed us to speed up discovery,” said Nalls. “We collaborated with Google Genomics to test varying implementations of the standard processing pipeline for exome sequence data on the cohort and population scale.”

With Google Genomics, the National Institute of Aging can compute large projects with sizeable datasets and share discoveries between institutes. With more than 50 research locations in Europe and the U.S. access to data powered by cloud computing enables analysis and discovery.

“We used the Google Cloud Platform to share data between sites,” said Nalls. “The partitioning of data in the cloud, in terms of permissions for different buckets, allows us to have control over who can see what data. We can maintain the privacy of individual samples and how they need to be treated in the cloud.”

As the National Institute of Aging continues research projects and analysis, cloud computing resources will provide the accessibility, security, and scalability needed. Cloud computing can help agencies unlock new capabilities while taking advantage of cost savings and the speed of the cloud.

Interested in learning more about how cloud computing drives innovation? Join Denise Winkler, Strategic Business Executive for Health and Human Services, Google Cloud for this webinar and explore how cloud can improve social services and citizen outcomes.

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