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Using the cloud to perform Genome Sequencing

The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is a statutory board under the Ministry of Trade and Industry of Singapore set up in 1991 to foster home-grown scientific research and talent. One entity within A*STAR is the Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS), which pursues the integration of technology, genetics, and biology towards the goal of individualised medicine. 


Research institutes that deal in genomic technology require large computing and data resources. Those with inadequate computing technologies often face scalability issues, which slow research in new genome sequencing techniques and technologies.

GIS solved this problem by collaborating with BT to create a cloud-based Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) environment. The advantages of NGS are the reduced time it takes for GIS to develop Next-Generation-Sequencing analytical software and to make it available to a wider reach of research communities and external parties.
GIS Executive Director Dr Ng Huck Hui said: “This collaboration with BT is in line with our goal to integrate technology, genetics and biology in order to make a positive impact on society. Through this collaboration, we will be able to expedite our research into commercial and eventually clinical applications to analyse complex Next-Generation-Sequencing (NGS) data, and enhance the development of algorithms to analyse disease etiologies.”
 
Under the terms of the agreement, BT will supply GIS with access to the BT Cloud Compute infrastructure built on the BT for Life Sciences platform. GIS’ compute-intense workloads will be transferred into the cloud and tested, allowing its performance to be enhanced.

Kevin Taylor, president of BT in Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa (AMEA), said: “BT for Life Sciences provides secure cloud-based technology options that reduce the time taken to assemble the necessary computing platform, and then make the applications run in a much shorter time. This creative combination of technology helps the life science sector realise the benefits in the cloud. It aligns completely with GIS’ vision of using science as a means to achieve greater gains in human health.”

GIS’ Chief Scientific Computing Officer Dr Fu Zhiyan said: “At the GIS, we have developed computer production pipelines to analyse NGS data and run them on in-house IT infrastructures. The new cloud computing technology will extend our in-house infrastructure to support surges in computational demand. It can also deliver GIS’ algorithms to researchers worldwide and enrich the institute’s contributions to global research collaborations.”
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