As I mentioned in my last post, DDN is excited to be part of the global genomics health and life sciences research community, where we contribute best practices around data management and storage technology. As part of DDN’s mission, we strive to enable greater levels of innovation and accelerated discovery for the world’s leading data-driven research organizations around the world.

Today I want to highlight one DDN customer making huge strides in genomics and human health. The Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization (ToMMo) at Tohoku University was founded to establish an advanced medical system supporting health and welfare in the Tohoku area, as part of the reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake. 

As I mentioned in As the cornerstone for advancements in public health, the research at ToMMo’s biobank combines genomic and medical data of hundreds of thousands of patients from the region.  One of the biggest challenges in epidemiological research is study size – studies need to recruit very large cohorts to ensure that results are statistically significant – and the biobank at ToMMo has been very successful in recruiting participants.  Because of the multi-generational families in the area, the bank includes cohort data that spans three generations for studies into the relationship of genetic and environmental factors on disease susceptibility and therapeutic effectiveness. The research informs policy decisions and evidence-based practice by identifying risk factors for disease and targets for preventive healthcare.

The importance of these studies and insight cannot be underestimated. ToMMo has already completed high-accuracy sequencing of 1,000 individuals for these studies. Managing all of this structured and unstructured data, or – to use the buzzword – Big Data, is critical. And, in this type of environment, a number of things became imperative for ToMMo scientists and researchers; their data had to be highly available; they wanted to be able to accelerate the performance of their systems in order to maximize processing time for sequencing data; and, they needed to be able to scale the amount of storage to support anticipated growth in high throughput sequencing and analysis.

For ToMMo, this meant deploying one of the largest Lustre systems in the world dedicated to genome research, with 16.6PB of DDN storage that is expandable to more than 50 PB as they continue to grow the biobank over the next few years. ToMMo now has the infrastructure and tools needed to support their medical genomics with unparalleled performance and scale, as well as being able to reap the integration benefits of sourcing both high performance file system and cloud storage from one single vendor.

Across the globe, as sequencing costs continue to drop, we are seeing the rise of large scale sequencing projects and the growth of corresponding biobanks. The insight from sequencing an individual organism is being dwarfed by the power of population studies, which are taking a more central role in clinical research and the growth of personalized medicine.  But to realize the full insights available in the data, centers undertaking this research, like ToMMo, we will need to leverage the latest technology and tools for Big Data across the full lifecycle of data generation, analysis and archival. It’s exciting to see clients like ToMMo paving the way.

  • George Vacek
  • George Vacek
  • Global Director Life Sciences
  • Date: July 31, 2014