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Bull Atos Powers New Genomics Supercomputer at Pirbright Institute

pirbrightToday Atos announced that a new Bull supercomputer at the Pirbright Institute in the UK will boost its capability to carry out bioinformatic analysis of animal virus diseases for research and surveillance purposes.

Atos came up with a combination of different platforms that will allow the institute to analyse and collate the broad range of datasets generated by our research programs. We were looking for an IT partner with a broad expertise in life science projects”, says Bryan Charleston, Interim Director of The Pirbright Institute.

To meet the Institute’s requirements, Atos provided a Bull system featuring several types of computer nodes in order to be able to deal with the complexity of the tasks carried out in the different departments of the Institute. The supercomputer will speed up the processing of genomics information and epidemiological studies at the Institute, a world leading center of research into viral diseases of livestock and those that spread from animals to people (zoonoses). Genome research manages massive amounts of data, which requires vast computer processing and storage capacity. By eliminating the bottlenecks that often occur in data analysis and storing data more efficiently, it is possible to generate information about increasing numbers of viral diseases.

Supercomputers are also critical when modeling the spread of disease with realistic simulations that take many factors into account, including work on the foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in the UK in 2001. Such simulations are essential to increase preparedness and inform policy makers in case of future outbreaks.

“Atos is determined to solve the technical challenges that arise in life sciences projects, to help scientists to focus on making breakthroughs and forget about technicalities. We know that one size doesn’t fit all and that is the reason why we studied carefully The Pirbright Institute’s challenges to design a customized and unique architecture. It is a pleasure for us to work with Pirbright and to contribute in some way to reduce the impact of viral diseases”, says Natalia Jiménez, WW Life Sciences lead at Atos.

Pirbright is strategically funded by the Bioscience and Biological Science Research Council (BBSRC) and a unique national centre that enhances the UK’s capability to control, contain and eliminate viral diseases of animals through its highly innovative fundamental and applied bioscience. With surveillance, vaccine production and informed support to policy making, Pirbright boosts the competitiveness of livestock and poultry producers in the UK and abroad, thereby improving the quality of life of both animals and people.

Purchasing a supercomputer is not like going to a supermarket and picking something off a shelf. It required a lot of design and discussion to define the system we wanted. Atos has enabled us to fully support our computational needs. We can assemble genomes, study the interaction between virus and host, understand how viruses evolve and model how they spread between individuals and farms”, says Paolo Ribeca, Head of Integrative Biology and Bioinformatics at Pirbright.

Andy Grant, Head of Big Data and HPC, Atos UK&I, said “We are really excited to see our HPC and analytics technologies being deployed in such a critical area of science, fundamental to the health and wellbeing of both our animal and human populations. The Bull supercomputer and storage environment deployed has been designed specifically to tackle kinds of data intensive computing challenges that The Pirbright Institute undertakes, removing bottlenecks to dramatically increase the throughput of analytical jobs.”

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