A part of Google Cloud Platform, Google Genomics has partnered with Broad Institute, a biomedical research organization made up of scientists from Harvard University, MIT and Harvard-affiliated hospitals to offer a cloud service version of its popular DNA analysis software called Genomic Analysis Tool Kit, or GATK.
GATK is a software which is used to analyse huge amounts of genomic sequencing data and has an industrial-strength infrastructure and engine that handle data access, conversion and traversal, as well as high-performance computing features and is highly generic and can be applied to all kinds of datasets and genome analysis problems.
According to Broad’s Chief Operating Officer Samantha Singer, the software has been downloaded 20,000 times by researchers and businesses. The software is complicated to learn and is taught as a part of academic biomedical curricula.
The collaboration with Google Genomics will provide the software, a sound technical platform and access to Google’s massive cloud platform. This will further assist the researchers to carry out their actual study and research without worrying about managing IT infrastructure.
Google Genomics is one of the lesser known initiatives of Google Cloud Platform which was started in 2014, with an objective to assist the life science community to organize the world’s genomic information and make it accessible and useful for researchers and bio-informaticians. It basically provides an API to store, process, explore, and share DNA sequence reads, reference-based alignments, and variant calls, using Google’s gargantuan cloud infrastructure.
The technical supremacy of Google to handle large amounts of data and analyse them speedily could make this partnership a revolutionary technological change in the area of medical research, which is often limited by the unavailability of accurate methods for interpreting the huge volume of genome sequence data (the entire genome of just one person produces more than 100 gigabytes of raw data!).
Broad and Google share a culture of collaboration and open access to data,
says 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.
The service charge has not been fixed yet by Google and it will be included in its cloud computing fees in the beginning for academic researchers while business users will have to license the software from Broad.
This initiative by Google of providing technical assistance to analyze genetic database, is a customer-gaining tactic in itself. Academic institutions and healthcare companies are choosing between Google and other technology companies, like Amazon.com Inc, Microsoft Corp and IBM Corp, to host and analyze genetic databases as they look to cure diseases.
This sector in itself could be worth $1 billion by 2018 according to various analysts.
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