NCI turns to Dell for pediatric cancer research project

The U.S. National Cancer Institute (NCI) is working with Dell, Terascala and the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) to bolster its pediatric oncology research capabilities. The NCI ultimately hopes to use the new computing capabilities to discover new biomarkers and therapeutic targets for childhood cancers.

Dell is supporting the initiative using its Genomic Data Analysis Platform, the tech giant's pitch for one of the markets created by the falling cost of sequencing. TGen began working with Dell to put these capabilities to work in pediatric cancer research in 2011. The NCI collaboration builds on this work--and Dell's incorporation of Terascala technology into its computing clusters--in an attempt to accelerate research.

"The result is a much faster and more efficient workflow for NCI researchers," Terascala CEO Steve Butler said in a statement. Terascala contributes several components to Dell's system, including its high-performance storage appliance TeraOS and the direct interface between file systems and genome sequencers. NCI will now apply these capabilities to its high-throughput genomic and proteomic cancer research programs.

A genomics database covering 800 childhood cancers--which NCI is sharing with TGen--forms a cornerstone of the collaboration. Databases for RNAseq and immunohistochemistry will also be supported by the new system, as will computational servers for planned precision therapy trials.

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