Google the first to join NIH effort to use cloud in research

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Biomedical researchers will be able to leverage the power of commercial cloud computing through a National Institutes of Health effort that Google’s joining.

The NIH initiative, called Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation and Sustainability (STRIDES), is meant to “reduce economic and technological barriers to accessing and computing on large biomedical datasets to accelerate biomedical advances.”

Under the agreement with Google Cloud, researchers at more than 2,500 academic institutions nationwide who receive NIH support will be able to tap into the company’s storage, computing and machine learning technologies.

The effort meshes with NIH’s recently released strategic plan for data science which called for leveraging commercial cloud capabilities for use in biomedical research. In particular, the plan noted that cloud environments “have the potential to streamline NIH data use by allowing rapid and seamless access, as well as to improve efficiencies by minimizing infrastructure and maintenance costs.”

Further, the plan recommended that NIH take advantage of “what is available in the private sector, either through strategic partnerships or procurement, to create a workable Platform as a Service (PaaS) environment.”

Also See: NIH strategic plan seeks to keep pace with changes in data science

“The volume of data generated in biomedical research labs across the world is growing exponentially,” says Gregory Moore, MD, vice president of healthcare at Google Cloud. “Through our partnership with NIH, we are bringing the power of data and the cloud to the biomedical research community globally. Together, we are making it easier for scientists and physicians to access and garner insights from NIH-funded datasets with appropriate privacy protections, which will ultimately accelerate biomedical research progress toward finding treatments and cures for the most devastating diseases of our time.”

According to NIH, the agency’s initial efforts will focus on making high-value data sets more accessible through the cloud, as well as seeking out partnerships in the areas of artificial intelligence and machine learning.

“By launching STRIDES, we clearly show our strong commitment to putting the most advanced cloud computing tools in the hands of scientists,” said Andrea Norris, chief information officer and director of the Center for Information Technology at NIH. “Beyond our partnership with Google Cloud, we will seek to add more industry partners to assure that NIH continues to be well poised to support the future of biomedical research.”

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