Johns Hopkins, Harvard & more partner on cloud-based genomics data platform

A team of researchers from across the nation, led by Baltimore-based Johns Hopkins computer scientists, have created a cloud-based platform, granting genomics researchers access to one of the largest genome datasets. 

The platform, called AnVIL, will allow any researcher access to thousands of analysis tools, patient records and over 300,000 genomes, according to a Jan. 12 news release from EurekAlert

Typically, genomic researchers have to download vast amounts of data from centralized sources. This proves time-consuming and inefficient, and makes cross-institutional collaboration difficult. It also provides more opportunity for security breaches with every download and data transfer. AnVIL solves this problem by allowing any researcher with internet access to use the platform simultaneously, removing the need to download data. It also has built in active threat-detection security measures. 

"AnVIL will be transformative for institutions of all sizes, especially smaller institutions that don’t have the resources to build their own data centers. It is our hope that AnVIL levels the playing field, so that everyone has equal access to make discoveries," said Michael Schatz, PhD, project co-lead and Bloomberg Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Biology at Johns Hopkins.

AnVIL has already collected petabytes of data from several of the largest National Human Genome Research Institute projects. It plans to host many more projects in the future. 

The research team working on AnVIL included researchers from Cambridge, Mass.-based Harvard University and MIT, UC Santa Cruz, the University of Chicago and New Haven, Conn.-based Yale School of Medicine, among many others. 

Read the full news release and research here. 

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