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Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology Partners AWS to Advance Genomics Research in India

Written by : Aishwarya Sarthe

September 26, 2023

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CCMB, under the guidance of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), focuses on studying genetic material and understanding variations throughout populations, crucial factors influencing human health and diseases.

In a significant move towards boosting genomics research, the Hyderabad-based Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology (CCMB), a research institution specialising in modern molecular biology and population-scale genomics, has selected Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its preferred cloud provider. 

This collaboration aims to accelerate critical genomics research projects at CCMB.

CCMB, under the guidance of the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR), focuses on studying genetic material and understanding variations throughout populations, crucial factors influencing human health and diseases.

Handling the vast amounts of data generated by next-generation high-throughput sequencers is challenging for life sciences and genomics research entities. Historically, many relied on on-premises servers for data storage and computation. 

Dr Divya Tej Sowpati, a genomics scientist at CSIR CCMB, stated, "At a time when genetics research is becoming critical for life sciences advancement, disease diagnosis, and drug development, we must innovate using technologies like cloud computing to achieve outcomes faster and better." 

Dr Sowpati also highlighted how AWS has facilitated quicker sample analysis and more consistent results in genomics research, allowing for the analysis of large-scale datasets and the exploration of genetic variations' impact on diseases.

However, CCMB, due to the data-intensive nature of genomics research, required additional on-premises storage frequently to manage petabyte-scale datasets and their subsequent output files.

Moreover, on-premises high-performance computing (HPC) clusters were utilised for analysis, but these were susceptible to outages, impacting research timelines. The scalability and performance limitations of on-premises servers led CCMB to leverage cloud computing, providing seamless scaling for data storage and analysis needs.

Pankaj Gupta, leader of the public sector at AWS India said, "Understanding the genomic variation in India's population is a government priority towards developing precision healthcare and diagnostics and delivering them at affordable costs. However, genomics research is data intensive, and the increasing volume and velocity of genomics data is challenging for research institutions in managing infrastructure and costs."

CCMB utilised AWS Snowball, an offline data transport service, to transfer 83 terabytes of genomics data from their on-premises servers to AWS. This method was crucial for smooth data migration in the data-intensive genomics field.

CCMB's engagement with AWS extends to studying breast cancer samples, aiming to identify molecular fingerprints of triple-negative breast cancers in the Indian population. AWS's computational power substantially accelerated the analysis of each sample.

In the past, Dr. Reddy's had selected AWS as its preferred cloud provider to streamline their operations. This move aimed to reduce app development time by 30%, improve internal processes, expedite generic drug manufacturing, and promote innovation within the organisation.


About Chime India

The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) is an executive organization dedicated to serving senior digital health leaders. CHIME includes more than 5,000 members in 56 countries and two US territories and partners with over 150 healthcare IT businesses and professional services firms. CHIME enables its members and business partners to collaborate, exchange ideas, develop professionally and advocate the effective use of information management to improve the health and care throughout the communities they serve. CHIME's members are chief information officers (CIOs), chief medical information officers (CMIOs), chief nursing information officers (CNIOs), chief innovation officers (CIOs), chief digital officers (CDOs), and other senior healthcare leaders. The CHIME India Chapter became the first international chapter outside North America in 2016 and is now a community of over 70+ members in India. For more information, please visit www.chimecentral.org

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