Geisinger Health System in Dansville, Penn., has become the first healthcare organization in the state with access to the Pennsylvania Research and Education Network, a public network exchange built and managed by the Keystone Initiative for Network Based Education and Research to provide broadband connectivity, foster collaboration and promote innovative use of digital technologies.

KINBER is a non-profit coalition of Pennsylvania’s education, research, healthcare, economic development, libraries and public media providing expertise and technical leadership for innovation and access to a high performance research network enabling massive data sharing, cloud services and enhanced connectivity to the Internet.

In a test of the system in December, researchers at the University of Pittsburgh were able to send a 175GB file of de-identified genomic data over the KMEX (KINBER Member Exchange Service) connection to Geisinger. KINBER anticipates data transfer times will improve as the KINBER and Geisinger technical staffs perform end-to-end performance tuning on the link.

Using KMEX saved researchers the time and expense of having the data burned to a hard drive and then shipped to Geisinger, said Raghu Metpally, a bioinformatics scientist at Geisinger’s Sigfried and Janet Weis Center for Research. “The whole process went very smoothly without any data loss or damage,” he said.

John Kravitz, vice president of information technology and associate chief information officer for Geisinger Health System, said the flexibility of the KINBER Network will allow Geisinger to establish redundancy with virtual Internet connections via a single physical connection.

"This allows us to connect to Philadelphia and Pittsburgh for research initiatives; if one connection fails we can failover to the other connection," he said. "In the past we would have been connected solely through an Internet point of presence in New York City with limited redundancy.”

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