Big Data + Bioinformatics = Virtual Lab Rats

Science and technology work together like dinner utensils. You may use them separately, but when you get to the main course, they make a great team.  Two of the hottest items in both fields now, big data and bioinformatics, are converging to create breakthrough discoveries, all in an effort to attain conclusive results.  Proof to these efforts is the creation of virtual laboratory rats to be used in pathology or study of diseases.

An expert and computational biologist, Daniel Beard noted the fields where they care currently extracting data to aid their studies via news release from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences “We are working toward the grand challenge of biomedical research: understanding the complex interplay between physiological, genetic and environmental factors.”

He further added, “The Virtual Physiological Rat is a means to learn as much as we can from experiments. I hope this will lead to much better, smarter, more efficient animal research.”

Unlike real live samples, virtual lab rats will be controlled via computer simulations of healthy hearts, kidneys, skeletal muscles and blood vessels (of live rats).  Diseases that they would hopefully be able to treat and observe include high blood pressure and heart failure. They will be looking into environmental conditions, hereditary and lifestyle factors.

Bioinformatics involves the regular shuffling of big data using certain formats and statistical analysis. Supporting the drive to develop more innovations is EMC Isilon. The company announced that the infamous Columbia University’s Center for Computational Biology and Bioinformatics will deploy EMC Isilon scale-out NAS to power various research programs of the academe.

In an official statement, John Lowell Wofford, University’s director for IT services welcomed the idea and said, “We were using a traditional NAS system that struggled to support the huge amounts of input/output demands on the 400 CPUs in our computing infrastructure. We knew that we’d soon outgrow that number by at least ten times. After switching to Isilon, we no longer had to worry that our system couldn’t handle our research demands. We knew that we could independently scale capacity and performance, so that we buy only what we need, when we need it.”

This fusion of bioinformatics and big data is a manifestation that we are indeed walking the path towards the medical IT era at micro and macro levels.