UK Biobank & the data economy – part 2

A couple of weeks back I wrote a post about repositories for all the data that users generate these days and what to do with it.  (See our post on Data banks, deposits, … data economy – part 1).

This past week I read an article (see ScienceDaily Genetics of brain structure … article) which partially exemplifies what that post talked about. The research used publicly available genetic information to tease out brain structure hereditary characteristics.  The Science Daily article was a summary of research done at the University of Oxford using information provided from the UK Biobank.

Biobank as a data bank

The Biobank has recruited 500K participants from the UK,  aged 40-69,  between 2006-2010, to share their anonymized health data with researchers and scientist around the world. The Biobank is set up as a Scottish charity, funded by various health organizations in UK both gov’t and private. 

In addition to information collected during the baseline assessment: 

  • 100K participants have worn a 24 hour health monitoring device for a week and 20K have signed up to repeat this activity.
  • 500K participants are providing have been genotyped (DNA sequencing to determine hereditary genes)
  • 100K participants will be medically scanned (brain, heart, abdomen, bones, carotid artery) with images stored in the Biobank
  • 100K participants have signed up to receive questionnaires asking  about diet, exercise, work history, digestive health and other medical indicators..

There’s more. Biobank is linking to electronic health records (EHR) of participants to track their health over time. The Biobank is also starting to provide blood analysis and other detailed medical measures of subjects in the study.

UK Biobank (data bank) information uses

“UK Biobank is an open access resource. The Resource is open to bona fide scientists, undertaking health-related research that is in the public good. Approved scientists from the UK and overseas and from academia, government, charity and commercial companies can use the Resource. ….” (from UK Biobank scientists page).

Somewhat like open source code, the Biobank resource is made available to anyone (academia as well as industry), that can make valid use of its data BUT any research derived from its data must be published and made freely available to the Biobank and the world.

Biobank’s papers page documents some of the research that has already been published using their data. It lists the paper on genetics of brain study mentioned above and dozens more.

Differences from Data Banks

In the original data bank post:

  1. We thought data was only needed by  AI/deep learning. That seems naive now. The Biobank shows that AI/deep learning is not the only application/research that needs data.
  2. We thought data would be collected by only by hyper-scalars and other big web firms during normal user web activity. But their data is not the only data that matters.
  3. We thought data would be gathered for free. Good data can take many forms, and some may cost money.
  4. We thought profits from selling data would be split between the bank and users and could fund data bank operations. But in the Biobank, funding came from charitable contributions and data is available for free (to valid researchers).

Data banks can be an invaluable resource and may take many forms. Data that’s difficult to find can be gathered by charities and others that use funding to create, operate and gather the specific information needed for targeted research.

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Photo Credit(s): Bank on it by Alan Levine

Latest MRI – two screws in the kneecap by Becky Stern

Other graphics from the Genetics of brain structure… paper

 

 

NetApp Analyst Summit Customer Panel – how to survive a category 5 tornado

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NetApp had three of their customer innovation winners come up on stage for a panel discussion with Dave Hitz moderating the discussion. All three had interesting deployments of NetApp storage systems:

  • Andrew Henderson from ING DIRECT talked about their need to deploy copies of the banks IT environment for test, development, optimization and security testing. This process took 12 weeks to accomplish the first time they tried and only created a single copy. They wanted to speed this up and be able to deploy 10 or more copies if necessary. Andrew looked at Microsoft Hyper-V, System Center and NetApp FlexClones and transformed this process to now generate a copy of the entire banks IT services in under 10 minutes. And since the new capabilities have been in place they have created over 400 copies of the bank (he called these bank-in-a-box) for various purposes.
  • Teresa Wahlert from Iowa Workforce Development Agency was up next and talked about their VDI implementation. Iowa cut their budget which forced them to shut down a number of physical offices. But with VDI, VMware and NetApp storage Workforce were able to disperse their services to over 3000 locations now in prisons, libraries, and other venues where they had no presence before. They put out a general call for all the tired, dying PCs in Iowa government and used these to host VDI services. Now Workforce services are up 7X24 locations, pretty amazing for government work. Apparently they had tried VDI before and their previous storage couldn’t handle it. They moved to NetApp with FlashCache and it worked just fine. That’s when they rolled it VDI services to their customers and businesses. With NetApp they were able to implement VDI, reduce storage costs (via deduplication and other storage efficiency features) and increase department services.
  • Jeff Bell at Mercy Healthcare talked about the difficulties of rolling out electronic health records (EHR) and their challenges of integrating ~30 hospitals and ~400 medical clinics. They started with EHR fairly early 2006-2007 well before the latest governmental push. He mentioned Joplin MO and last years category 5 tornado which about wiped out their hospital there. He said within 2 hours after the disaster, Mercy Healthcare was printing out the EHR for the 183 patients present in the hospital at the time that had to be moved to other care facilities. The promise of EHR is that the information travels with the patient, can be recovered in the event of a disaster and is immediately available.  It seems that at least at Mercy Healthcare, EHR is living up to its promise. In addition, they just built a new data center as they were running out of space, power and cooling at the old one. They installed new NetApp storage there and for the first few months had to run heaters to keep the data center live-able because the new power/cooling load was so far below what they were experienced previously. Looking back on what they had accomplished Jeff was not so sure they would build a new data center again. With new cloud offerings coming out and the reduced power/cooling and increased density of NetApp storage they could almost get by without another data center at all.

That’s about it from the customer session.

NetApp execs spent the rest of the day on innovation, mostly at NetApp but also in the IT industry in general.

There was lots of discussion on the new release of Data ONTAP 8.1.1 with its latest cluster mode features.  NetApp positioned it as fulfilling out the transition to  data/storage as an infrastructure that IT has been pushing for the last decade or so.  Following in the grand tradition of what IBM did for computing infrastructure with the 360 and what Cisco and others did for networking infrastructure in the mid 80’s.

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