Australian National University – Leveraging Microsoft Azure for genetic breakthroughs


[orchestral music] I’m a research fellow in the
Department of Genome Sciences at the John Curtin
School of Medical Research at the Australian
National University. The University has ranked
consistently in the top 20 of research-intensive
universities in the world. In my research, I am trying
to address the question of how structural changes
in the genome can affect the regulation
of a process that, in cancer, is associated
with metastasis. For me and other researchers
in the field, the computer is the lab. Genome science is probably one
of the area of life sciences that is most dependent
on information technology. The human genome contains about
7 billion base pairs of DNA. Finding statistical
correlations among these pairs
and diseases is a very demanding
computational task. As we are gathering
more and more samples to conduct our research, we’re facing the challenge
of an exponential growth in data and demands
for storing this data. [orchestral music] Using cloud computing
enables us to access state-of-the-art hardware without upfront investment
and on demand. Which is in contrast
to on-premise, where the hardware will become
obsolete within several years. We were able to access four
times the computational power for half the price,
compared to the on-premise hardware we’d been
using previously. With Azure, we can actually
limit our expenses by only paying
for the time that we need. By storing our data
in the cloud, we’re taking advantage
of the virtually unlimited storage capacity,
and we are able to easily move
our research data between on-demand access
to archival storage, where it is safely
and securely stored for us. Microsoft Azure
has really enabled us to reduce the time
that we had to wait for the analysis of our data, which eventually leads
to the faster publication of our results. Azure saves me
probably two days of work of setting up
and configuring the server. So instead, we can focus
on performing analyses and studying our data and asking
the interesting questions. Microsoft has really embraced
open source in recent years, which makes it relatively easy
to use other researchers’ methodologies in the cloud. My research adds
a little piece to the mosaic of research that has been done
in this field. With Azure, sharing our data
with other researchers really enables us
to move research along faster than ever before. [soft piano music]

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