Google Cloud partners with Garvan to accelerate genome sequencing project

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Google Cloud and The Garvan Institute of Medical Research have announced a major milestone in their genome sequencing collaboration.

The organisations have processed 14,000 genomes in less than two weeks.

Google Cloud supported Garvan with a secure-by-design and cloud-based solution. It said running the same analysis without cloud computing would be significantly more expensive and time-intensive.

“Recent, substantial improvements in the national genomics landscape have resulted in the assembly of large-scale biobanks with hundreds of thousands of genomics-ready DNA samples and associated deep clinical data,” said Associate Professor Sarah Kummerfeld, the director of data science at Garvan.

“This dramatic expansion of access to clinical genomics requires scalable, coordinated data infrastructure. Google Cloud offers infrastructure built for scaling and efficiency. Without it, this genome project would have taken much longer.”

The organisations said the data set generated by the project will be used by researchers at the Centre for Population Genomics (CPG), a partnership between Garvan and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute (MCRI), to explore the distribution of genetic variation across populations and improve the diagnosis of rare genetic disorders.

“In order for genomics to provide better prediction, diagnosis, and treatment of disease for all Australians, we need the ability to analyse human DNA at massive scale. This project demonstrates the value of a cloud computing model to achieve this,” said CPG director Professor Daniel MacArthur.

"Core to Google Cloud’s DNA is open-source collaboration, and biomedical research is no different. We know that solving some of the world’s biggest challenges doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” said Alister Dias, vice president of Google Cloud for Australia and New Zealand.

“Google Cloud’s scalable and secure infrastructure enabled Garvan to analyse massive amounts of biomedical information at unprecedented speed. The potential of this research to quickly understand and find cures for gene-related diseases is significant, and one we’re proud to be a part of.”