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Google partners with Broad Institute on genome analysis

29 June 2015
Appeared in BioNews 808

Genome  analysis software developed by the Broad Institute is now available in cloud form to users of Google's online genetic data storage services.

The move is the first step in a partnership between the Institute and the internet giant, which will see the two develop computing infrastructure to support the analysis and storage of genetic data produced in research.

Since last week, the Broad Institute's Genome Analysis Toolkit (GATK) software has been available to certain users of Google Genomics - an online service where large amounts of genetic information can be stored and analysed 'in the cloud'.

The GATK software provides a variety of tools to analyse genomes, such as identifying variations between the genetic codes of different people. It is already available for free to research institutions and non-profit organisations and can be licensed for businesses.

Now that it is available through Google Genomics, customers can effectively use the software via high-powered computers maintained by Google and accessed over the internet, rather than on local computers.

Eric Banks, director of data science and data engineering at the Broad Institute, told GenomeWeb, 'The significant hardware requirements for running the GATK at scale may make it difficult for smaller research laboratories that lack dedicated compute infrastructure. But with GATK in the cloud, virtually anyone with an account can access it.'

This partnership will be seen as an advantage for Google as it and other technology companies, such as Amazon and Microsoft, compete for dominance in the emerging market of storing and analysing human genetic data online. This industry is expected to be worth $1 billion by 2018.

Modern genome studies generate huge amounts of data, with the Broad Institute saying that, in October 2014, it completed the sequence of a human genome every 32 minutes.

To date, GATK has been downloaded 20,000 times, according to Broad Institute chief operating officer Samantha Singer, and it will continue to be available directly from the Broad Institute.

Broad Institute, Google Genomics combine bioinformatics and computing expertise to expand access to research tools
MIT Broad Institute (press release) |  23 June 2015
Broad Institute, Google Genomics to Offer Cloud-based GATK, Other Genomic Data Analysis Services
GenomeWeb |  24 June 2015
Google, Broad Institute Launch Genomic Data Partnership
Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News |  25 June 2015
Google Genomics adds Broad Institute's DNA analysis toolkit
Reuters |  24 June 2015
Google wins a round in fight to lead medical research into the cloud
San Francisco Business Times |  25 June 2015
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