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Microsoft Azure Joins NIH STRIDES Cloud Computing Program

NEW YORK – Microsoft's Azure cloud platform has joined the US National Institutes of Health's Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation, and Sustainability program, NIH announced Tuesday.

According to Microsoft, the company will offer cloud services including Azure's artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities to NIH and NIH-funded researchers. The platform will help researchers optimize processing, storage, and analysis of large datasets and "computationally intensive workloads" as they seek to unravel the mysteries of human diseases, the tech giant explained on its blog.

"We often risk losing the value of biomedical data because of the sheer volumes being generated and digitized around the world. By leveraging cloud and artificial intelligence capabilities, biomedical researchers are able to quickly identify and extract critical, lifesaving insights from this sea of information," Toni Townes-Whitley, Microsoft's president for US regulated industries, said in a statement.

NIH already contracts with Azure's two main competitors, namely Amazon Web Services and the Google Cloud platform, for the STRIDES program. STRIDES aims to promote cloud computing to reduce the economic and technological barriers to accessing and analyzing large biomedical datasets, with the goal of accelerating biomedical advances.

"The cloud can help democratize access to high-value research data and the most advanced analytical technologies for all researchers," said Andrea Norris, NIH's chief information officer. "Expanding our network of providers and access to the most advanced computational infrastructure, tools, and services provides the agility and flexibility that researchers need to accelerate research discoveries."