McMaster University

McMaster University

Faculty of
Health Sciences

McMaster and Cisco collaborate to further bioinformatics research and build institutional research cloud

Published: May 8, 2013
Patrick Deane and Nitin Kawale
McMaster President Patrick Deane (left) and Nitin Kawale, president of Cisco Canada, pictured at Wednesday's funding announcement

McMaster University and Cisco Canada today announced they have established a long-term relationship which will see the University increase research activities in integrated health biosystems and bioinformatics.

McMaster and Cisco will also establish a university-wide research cloud computing environment and infrastructure. This relationship will see McMaster build on its renowned research successes and strengthen its links with national and international partners from academia, government and industry. 

As part of the agreement, Cisco is providing a $2.1 million contribution to McMaster. This includes $1.6 million over eight years to establish a Professorship in Integrated Health Biosystems and $500,000 over five years to establish a Research Chair in Bioinformatics.

The Research Chair in Bioinformatics will collaborate on a program in integrated health biosystems. The aim will be to bridge the existing gulf between data-intensive areas of biomedical research and healthcare by integrating diverse biological datasets with clinical and environmental data.

The Professorship in Integrated Health Biosystems will help to establish a cloud-based computational infrastructure designed to manage, analyze, integrate and distribute the vast amounts of data resulting from biomedical research, clinical trials, and patient feedback.

At the announcement of the agreement today, McMaster President Patrick Deane said: "The chair in bioinformatics and the professorship in biosystems will allow us to increase our research capacity and capture the value of the exponentially increasing volumes of data generated by our researchers. 

"This investment will give us the much needed infrastructure to share our information with our local, national and global partners."

President of Cisco Canada, Nitin Kawale, said researchers currently have the challenge of making vast amounts of data accessible to the right people for maximum benefit.

"Cisco and McMaster both realize that this challenge can be turned into a fantastic opportunity to not only improve the way this data is managed, but to also analyze how people’s connection to others and to devices continues to evolve. This innovative project has the potential to transform the way academic research is conducted in Canada and throughout the world."

Current research initiatives at the university tend to store data in separate databases, accessed primarily by the original research team and seldom shared across different studies. By creating one simple cloud-based infrastructure to both house research data and provide high performance analysis, multiple Faculties at McMaster will have easy access to technology resources, and be able to share data and collaborate for a more comprehensive delivery of results. 

In the future, this "research cloud" could serve multiple institutions and research facilities.

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