Supercomputing supports genetic, cancer research in Arizona

There is a vast amount of data out there, from the millions of genomes of patients and their cancers to what must be billions of clinical research reports and medical records, but it's really only useful if it's all in one place and searchable. A new building in Phoenix will house the supercomputer that just might help physicians and researchers access this information and use it as a resource.

The building is part of the CSS Institute for Advanced Health, created by biotech entrepreneur Patrick Soon-Shiong, and the heart of the project is the supercomputer, made up of banks of standard PCs. The project will also have data centers in Phoenix and Scottsdale, AZ, dedicated to health information storage. The project will focus on collecting data on genetic research and cancer, Anoj Willy of the CSS Institute told The Arizona Republic. In order to gain access to the genomes, the institute is signing agreements with the institutes around the world where they were sequenced.

The next step will be to use the center's advanced computing power to support the sequencing of cancer cell genomes from patient samples. "We need to be in a position where we can analyze the genome of the cancer and determine the genome of the host patient (to treat them)," Bob Peirce, senior vice president of Soon-Shiong's Nant Holdings in Los Angeles told The Arizona Republic.

There are always risks of having patient data, especially identifiable patient data, in one place, but the institute is working to reassure those concerned that the data will be kept as secure as possible. This kind of digital data resource in a single location could be invaluable to researchers developing new therapeutics and diagnostics.

- check out the article from The Arizona Republic