Google and Broad Institute make genomic analysis a cloud service

June 24, 2015, 9:44 AM UTC
Courtesy of Anton Grassl

Genetic researchers will now be able to use the Broad Institute’s Genome Analysis Toolkit as a service running on the Google Cloud Platform. The software, also known as GATK, paired with Google’s massive cloud, can quickly process genomic processing data.

The toolkit was already available as a free download and the institute, backed by MIT and Harvard University, will continue to support it whether scientists run it in their own facilities, another cloud or on the Google (GOOG) cloud. The Cambridge, Mass.-based Broad Institute has aggregated the world’s largest collection of genetic data about diseases.

The advent of massive-scale public clouds has huge potential benefits for scientific and medical researchers who need to run (and re-run) huge data analysis. In the past such researchers would often have to sign up for and wait for time on a supercomputer, which can take weeks or even months.

It’ s not so much that cloud computing saves money and time as that it enables number crunching and research that most scientists could not have considered in the past.

“Large-scale genomic information is accelerating scientific progress in cancer, diabetes, psychiatric disorders, and many other diseases,” said Eric Lander, president and director of Broad Institute in a statement. “Storing, analyzing, and managing these data is becoming a critical challenge for biomedical researchers.”

This sort of research is an ideal showcase for the power of cloud computing which is one reason Google, Amazon[fortune-symbol=”AMZN”], and Microsoft[fortune-symbol=”AMZN”], are all eager to show that their clouds can handle the toughest medical, biomedical, and genomic research tasks.

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