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USC, Emory University, and University of Alabama Leverage the Cloud to Enhance Research

by Jackie Davis

The innovation from cloud solutions is evolving the public sector. Scientific research, in particular, is benefiting immensely from cloud computing. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation, and Sustainability (STRIDES) Initiative is working to incorporate cloud technology into scientific research to streamline data and remain budget-friendly. By partnering with commercial providers, STRIDES promotes advancements in medical research made possible by cloud-based tools, applications, and infrastructures.

In a recent webcast, experts from Google Cloud and Onix, a Google Cloud partner, came together to explore how STRIDES and cloud computing is enabling researchers to reduce costs, scale storage, and continue making medical advances. “The NIH STRIDES Initiative is targeting researcher pain points they identified around access that researchers have for their data, helping researchers collaborate around those data sets, and also ensuring researchers have these frontline technology solutions for their work,” said Alice Kamens, Strategic Projects and Program Manager at Google Cloud, Higher Ed. Backed by Google Cloud, STRIDES offers researchers fair pricing, access to training, and guidance on data best practices that enable better research outcomes.

Watch the Webinar

In partnership with Onix and Google Cloud, the University of Southern California and Emory University, and the University of Alabama at Huntsville were able to easily process data, collaborate in a scalable environment, and deliver insights on groundbreaking findings. Sunnie Southern, VP, Health and Life Sciences, Onix and Jim Coyne, Health & Life Sciences Cloud Specialist, Onix, joined the webcast to share how cloud computing enabled these researchers.

University of Southern California

The Need: Analyze a large molecule library with information on opioid addiction.

The Challenge: This would typically take five to seven years to complete. “Typically, this would take a very long time on-prem, it would take a couple years, but it came down to just one day where they leveraged preemptible instances,” explained Coyne.

The Solution: Onix helped USC accelerate the time to identify new drug targets for non-addictive pain relief from over one year to one day. By leveraging GCP preemptible VM instances on 200,000 CPU cores, Onix helped USC reduce costs by 80%.

Insight: “You can think of opioid drugs as keys, which can selectively open or block proteins in our brain called opioid receptors. Basically, we want to find and design better keys—in this case opening the receptor that relieves pain, while blocking another that is associated with addiction,” said Nilkanth Patel, Ph.D. candidate, Biological Sciences and Chemistry, Bridge Institute, University of Southern California.

Emory University

The Need: Develop machine learning and AI to predict sepsis and epilepsy in large urban hospitals.

The Challenge:  Scalable infrastructure with applications that could be deployed locally.

The Solution: A cloud-based model that can go from on-prem to fully cloud and can process images and data needed to make predictions.

Insight: “The reason why this algorithm is doing such a fantastic job is because it’s providing information in the actionable window when physicians can take meaningful actions for a patient,” shared Ashish Sharma, Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Informatics, Emory University.

University of Alabama at Huntsville

The Need: The ability to visualize data for a NASA air pollution project.

The Challenge: Implementing the tools and hypothetical data to determine medical outcomes.

The Solution: Leveraging BigQuery to predict and visualize data outcomes.

Insight: “The increased temporal and geographical measurements that will be unique to the new datasets will help us better assess how variations in gases like ozone and nitric oxides can affect human health,” said Dr. Susan Alexander, an associate professor of nursing with UA. “Ozone is strongly linked to cardiopulmonary disorders.”

Cloud computing provides a variety of benefits to the research community. “We help bring the researchers to the data,” said Southern. With reduced cost, enhanced collaboration, and accelerated outcomes, the cloud enables researchers to find the answers they need.

Interested in learning how the cloud can improve your research? Watch this webinar.

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