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NIH to Fund Research Testing Cancer Genomics Cloud Pilots

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb) – The National Institutes of Health has announced a funding opportunity for research projects that will take advantage of the National Cancer Institute's Cancer Genomics Cloud Pilots in order to help evaluate and further develop the data-management infrastructures.

Traditionally, genomic data analysis involves downloading data stored at multiple locations, attempting to harmonize those data, and then computing them on local hardware, NIH said. However, the increase in biomedical data stemming from large-scale programs involving next-generation sequencing technology has made this model untenable.

To address this issue, in 2014 NCI kicked off an initiative to build a network of genomic data repositories that can be securely and easily accessed by the broader cancer research community.

As part of that effort, NCI awarded contracts to the Broad Institute, the Institute for Systems Biology, and Seven Bridges Genomics to develop infrastructures and sets of tools for accessing, exploring, and analyzing molecular data. Although they are all implemented through a commercial cloud provider, these so-called Cancer Genomics Cloud Pilots have distinct system designs, data presentations, and analysis resources, according to NCI.

Ahead of the planned 2016 release of the cloud pilots, NIH said that it is seeking proposals under which currently funded projects incorporate one or more of the cloud pilots' resources in order to evaluate their utility and guide NCI's future plans for a genomics data computational infrastructure.

Successful proposals must include one of more of the cloud pilots as part of their research objectives. According to NIH, proposals may include, but are not limited to, installing new analysis tools in one or more of the cloud pilot environments to test their performance on large genomic datasets or to conduct novel research; privately uploading locally generated genomic data to one or more cloud pilot environments for analysis in conjunction with data from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA); and performing TCGA data processing or analysis using either cloud pilot or user-provided tools.

Projects that require significant alterations to the cloud pilots in order to meet their research goals will not be accepted, NIH noted. Additionally, the use of controlled-access TCGA data is not a requirement.

NIH said that it expects that accepted applications will be awarded up to $40,000 in direct costs, adding that these costs may not exceed the direct costs of the parent awards. Applications must be submitted by Oct. 18.

Additional details can be found here.