NetApp Accelerates Human Genome Study While Lowering Costs and Improving Productivity


By Dave Nesvisky, Executive Director, NetApp Healthcare


More unique than a fingerprint, each individual’s human genome is expressed in a specific sequence of letters known as “base pairs.” With three billion base pairs in every human– approximately 200 gigabytes of genetic data– the challenge of mapping, storing and analyzing the genome is astounding. Consider the amount of computing power needed to analyze that amount of data, per person, compounded by the need for powerful and reliable computational and storage infrastructure to function.


One such organization — The Inova Translational Medicine Institute (ITMI) — had this challenge.


The challenge

ITMI is an institute of Inova, a not-for-profit healthcare system based in Northern Virginia. ITMI individualizes patient care through genomics and molecular medicine. By better understanding the genes of each patient, a much more precise (and, as a result, effective) diagnosis and treatment can be produced. ITMI began its first genomic study on preterm birth to help identify, better care for, and develop preventive therapies for at-risk mothers. Since then, ITMI has initiated several other major studies, with more in the pipeline.


Each study results in massive amounts of information, which is collected, merged, and analyzed from different sources in a public cloud that includes the Inova Epic electronic health record and patient portal. A challenge quickly arose when researchers and clinicians began examining and manipulating the growing datasets, causing storage costs and pay-per-use fees to escalate. To compound this, analysis of some datasets in the public cloud took weeks and often failed before completion.


callout box 14 font.jpgThe solution

After consulting with NetApp, ITMI elected to move to a hybrid cloud environment that granted full control over an internal infrastructure. The private cloud served as a means to more reliably and cost-effectively address escalating performance and capacity demands. This took the form of an integrated NetApp and SGI infrastructure stack to address the institute’s high-performance computing needs. 


“We have a supportive, ongoing collaboration with NetApp,” says Aaron Black, director of informatics at ITMI. “Our NetApp solutions will continue to grow as we do, enabling us to conduct more studies to deliver even greater value to the biomedical community in their search for answers.”


A world of possibility

The right treatment, at the right time, can transform and save lives. The genetic research ITMI conducts is revolutionizing the practice of medicine by changing it from reactive to predictive, and NetApp storage, along with SGI servers, supports that effort.


Click here for more details about ITMI’s challenge, solution, and outcome.