May 23, 2018

OICR’s Cancer Genome Collaboratory wins 2018 OpenStack Superuser award for contributions to the cancer research community

Vincent Ferretti's lab at work.

Based on popular vote and review by the Superuser Editorial Advisory Board, OICR’s Cancer Genome Collaboratory team has won the 2018 OpenStack Vancouver Summit Superuser Award. The Award recognizes OICR’s use of OpenStack, an open-source software platform for cloud computing, to enable cancer research worldwide. Previous winners of the Superuser Award include AT&T, CERN and Comcast.

“We’re proud to be recognized by the greater research community that we support,” Vincent Ferretti, Director and Senior Principal Investigator, Genome Informatics at OICR, says. “OpenStack has helped us contribute to the cancer research community in Ontario, across Canada and internationally.”

OpenStack has helped us contribute to the cancer research community in Ontario, across Canada and internationally

Downloading genomic data from a large repository can take weeks or months, which in turn delays researchers from analyzing their data. Using OpenStack, OICR has built the Cancer Genome Collaboratory (the Collaboratory), a cloud resource that allows cancer researchers to both access and analyze the world’s most comprehensive cancer genome dataset from the International Cancer Genome Consortium (ICGC). By allowing users to start their own virtual machines, OpenStack facilitates access to the Collaboratory’s compute and storage resources, enabling research and analysis on the large amounts of cancer –omic data within the Collaboratory without the need to transfer data across geographical locations.

The Collaboratory’s development team focuses on removing barriers that prevent researchers from using the ICGC’s vast genomic database. In addition to removing delays associated with downloading large datasets, the Collaboratory presents a non-commercial public cloud environment for research groups who do not have the necessary computing power or resources to analyze such data. The development team’s commitment to using open source technologies has allowed the Collaboratory to offer a cloud environment at a reduced cost to research groups relative to commercial cloud providers.

Ferretti lab working together.

Over the past four years, the Collaboratory has contributed to the research behind 43 peer-reviewed publications and an additional 50 papers from PCAWG, the PanCancer Analysis of Whole Genomes project, which are currently under review. At present, the Collaboratory is being used by more than 40 research labs across four continents. The Superuser Award recognizes the Collaboratory’s impact in increasing capacity for cancer research worldwide.

“Looking forward, the Collaboratory will play a significant role in the next era of ICGC which aims to realize the potential of cancer genome studies by combining genomics with clinical data,” Lincoln Stein, Head of Adaptive Oncology says.

George Mihaiescu, Senior Cloud Architect, and Jared Baker, Cloud Specialist, accepted the Superuser award on behalf of OICR on May 21 in Vancouver. Watch George’s interview from the Summit.

Read the OpenStack’s Superuser news release.