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Who We Are
Biomedical informatics is an interdisciplinary science that integrates computer science, information technology, biostatistics and mathematics to solve problems related to biomedical data and serve as the backbone that drives discovery from the bench to the bedside. For a long time, Meharry relied on research collaborators to provide desperately needed informatics components for our research and clinical programs.
Our goal is to establish and develop a Biomedical Informatics infrastructure to support the MeTRC program. The success of the current program will capitalize on Meharry's strong collaborative networks and alliances with research programs (such as the RCMI, RTRN and CTSA). This allows biomedical informatics to have access to the resources available through these programs, and to nexus between the informatics programs of these networks and MeTRC.
To fulfill these goals, the Specific Aims are as follows:
- Develop an effective informatics infrastructure that will support MeTRC goals in translational research;
- Develop new informatics tools and enhance our existing tools to meet the program's demands for informatics support;
- Develop strategies for facilitating internal communication within MeTRC as well as external collaboration and partnerships, and,
- Develop a new educational program on biomedical informatics.
Develop adequate and cost effective informatics infrastructure to facilitate communication, program evaluation and educational outreach for all clinical and translation researchers at Meharry. Funding was utilized to establish the following Activities and Outcomes. To fulfill this goal we are working on the development and establishment of our biomedical informatics hardware, software and intellectual infrastructure.
The aforementioned activities and milestones lead to allocating space and resources for large data sets and access to hardware and software to build the interface for the MeTRC web portal system, which will provide a suitable environment for researchers to exchange data and collaborate with computational tools and resources necessary for translational research. We will continue to grow, instituting a new computer lab providing training, counseling and services to researchers related to data management, and availability of skilled personel to help the researchers.
Current biomedical research is facing several informatics challenges processing massive heterogeneous data, which is computationally intensive as are the algorithms required for handling this data. This creates a backlog that requires instrument downtime to catch up. The development of a new informatics infrastructure necessitates developing an informatics system that can facilitate consistent data and information flow into and out of the system without loss of information.
Future Planes and Timeline
In compliance with the NIH requirements, we have developed a detailed, timed plan with actionable items (activities) and deliverables (milestones). This timed plan covers the project's duration and ensures full compliance and clear vision. Moreover, as we continue moving forward, we will continuously monitor our progress through and its impact on the research community through a series of questionnaires and quality control modules to be included in the future MeTRC web portal system.
General Utility (IT): The hardware infrastructure consists of:
- 60 MS-Windows servers;
- 4 UNIX servers operating with HP-UX;
- 16 TB Storage Area Networks (SAN), which utilize fiber channels;
- 6 TB of Network Attached Systems (NAS), which utilizes 4 disc-to-disc backup systems, and,
- Across MMC there is a fiber internet and intranet backup using a STAR toplogy.
Computer Center configuration is equipped with controlled access via a card reader system. The center is also equipped with a generator which is able to operate for up to a week, and is tested on a weekly basis. The information center hosts two computer clusters, providing a suitable environment and administrative support.
As current biomedical informatics applications are computationally demanding, we aimed at developing a hardware system that will serve MeTRC's biomedical informatics research needs. The system will support computationally-intensive biomedical research processes such as protein modeling and simulations, while providing a unique environment for serving database development and data sharing. New hardware architecture will be added using a blade/rack mount model system, which will be built around unit redundancy and upgradability as well as using stand-alone workstations. To meet different needs, we will add new units to the in-house cluster (for future upgrades) and established a new computer lab to serve MeTRC needs.
We are in the process of adding new workstations and cluster upgrades. To cope with the current advances in computer systems and meet the needs for computationally demanding research, such as image processing algorithms and structural biology, we introduced the GPU acceleration systems with multicourse technology. With the new CUDA technology, researchers will be allowed to analyze complex data and run computationally intensive algorithms, such as those required for 3D reconstruction for medical and diagnostic imaging, radio-therapy applications, electron microscopy, computational drug design, GIS and structural biology.
Tools & Resources
For free consultations and access to resources, please contact Amy Andrade.