Friday, 23rd August 2019
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Tohoku supercomputer

Tohoku University Tohoku Medical Megabank Organization (ToMMo) has increased its supercomputing capacity to build an advanced medical system, by increasing the capabilities and efficiency of the supercomputer-powered biobank, leveraging DDN® solutions and NVIDIA DGX-1 servers.

Designed for large-scale medical information technology research and analytics, ToMMo was overhauled in 2018 with the goal of improving competitiveness and providing access to data and computational/analytical functionality with both internal and external research organizations. These improvements included greatly expanding its DDN shared parallel storage appliance capacity to 29 PB and connecting the system to NVIDIA DGX-1 GPU-based servers running Parabricks genomic analytical software. The result was a dramatic increase in system performance.

“By bringing in new technologies we didn’t have in the beginning – AI, GPUs, next-generation CPUs, and ultra-high-performance data storage – we have boosted our analytical capacity and our sample sizes, giving us a major leg up in terms of the accuracy of our data analyses,” said Professor Kengo Kinoshita, Ph. D., deputy executive director of ToMMo and director of the Center for Genome Platform Projects. “By being able to deal with a much larger dataset, we have been able to develop successful new methodologies that had previously only existed in theory.” DDN enabled a system overhaul under limited budgets and smoothly migrated an approximately 6PB of existing data to the new system within two days without interruption.

The number of whole-genome sequence data from samples supplied by residents in the disaster area of the 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami is expected to reach around 5,000 by the end of 2019. The number of total participants in the organization’s cohort studies has reached 150,000 and the samples and data collected as part of these studies has been put to use by ToMMo, as well as a large number of outside researchers to accelerate and advance many research projects.

“Advanced genomic modeling will very likely be the foundation for a large portion of all future medical experimentation, research and ultimately breakthroughs,” said Kurt Kuckein, DDN’s director of marketing. “All of us at DDN have been thrilled to be working closely with ToMMo on its efforts to build one of the world’s preeminent biobanks. It is gratifying to be able to help our customers be able to deliver potentially life altering services.”

“When a child born today falls ill fifty years from now, being able to trace their entire medical history would be an incredible achievement,” said Professor Kinoshita. “I want to build a system where the data when that person was three years old can be called up in an instant. That vision is what led us to expand our total data storage pool to 29 petabytes.”

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