U.S. awards $2M for 'big data' DNA analysis

The White House's $200 million plan to back in "big data" research has paid off for a group of universities seeking new ways to analyze DNA data with supercomputers. The National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health have awarded a three-year grant of $2 million to develop specialized algorithms, libraries of open-source software and other tools to aid researchers in the analysis of huge amounts of genomic data.

Iowa State University is leading the effort that includes researchers at Stanford University, the University of Michigan, Rutgers University and Virginia Tech, according to Iowa State's press release. These universities are among many private and government-funded groups working on tools geared toward massive amounts of data from genomic sequencers, as the cost and complexity of understanding the data now trump the price and time required to decode DNA.

"Seven years ago, we were able to sequence DNA one fragment at a time. Now researchers can read up to 6 billion DNA sequences in one experiment," Iowa State's Srinivas Aluru said in the press release. "How do we address these big data issues?"

Aluru's group at Iowa State, which expects to garner $1.3 million of the $2 million grant, has ambitious plans to provide a go-to source of open-source software for researchers to harness the power of supercomputers to quell their big data genomics problems.

- here's the release