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TGen Cures Storage Needs with Dell EMC to Advance Precision Medicine

Sasha Paegle

Sasha Paegle

Sr. Business Development Manager, Life Sciences

As the gap between theoretical treatment and clinical application for precision medicine continues to shrink, we’re inching closer to having the practice of doctors using individual human genomes to prescribe specific care strategies become a commonplace reality.

Organizations such as the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen), a leading biomedical research institute, are on the forefront of enabling a new generation of life-saving treatments. With innovations from TGen, breakthroughs in genetic sequencing are unraveling mysteries of complex diseases like cancer.

To help achieve its goal to successfully use –omics to prevent, diagnose and treat disease, the Phoenix-based non-profit research institute selected Dell EMC to enhance its IT system and infrastructure to manage its petabyte-size sequencing cluster.

Data Tsunami 

The time and cost of genomic sequencing for a single person has dropped dramatically since the Human Genome Project, which spanned 13 years and cost $1 billion. Today, sequencing can be completed in roughly one day for approximately $1,000. Furthermore, technological advances in sequencing and on the IT front have enabled TGen to increase the number of patients being sequenced from the hundreds to the thousands annually. To handle the storage output from current sequencing technologies and emerging single molecule real-time (SMRT) sequencing, TGen required an infrastructure with the storage capacity and performance to support big data repositories produced by genetic sequencing—even as they grow exponentially.

“When you get more sequencers that go faster and run cheaper, and the more people are being sequenced, you’re going to need more resources in order to process this tsunami of data,” said James Lowey, TGen’s CIO.

TGen stores vast amounts of data generated by precision medicine, such as genetic data and data from wearables including glucose monitors and pain management devices, as well as clinical records and population health statistics. Scientists must then correlate and analyze this information to develop a complete picture of an individual’s illness and potential treatment. This involves TGen’s sequencing cluster churning through one million CPU hours per month and calls for a storage solution that is also able to maintain high availability, which is critical to the around the clock research environment.

Benefits for Researchers

In the coming years, researchers can expect genetic sequences to increase in addition to SMRT sequencing paving the way for larger data volumes.

Lowey notes, “As genetic data continues to grow exponentially, it’s even more important to have an extremely reliable infrastructure to manage that data and make it accessible to the scientists 24/7.”

Having a robust storage infrastructure in place allows researchers to fully devote their time and attention on the core business of science without worrying if there’s enough disk space or processing capacity. It also helps scientists get more precise treatments to patients faster, enabling breakthroughs that lead to life-saving and life-changing medical treatments – the ultimate goal of TGen and like-minded research institutes.

Looking Ahead

With the likelihood of sequencing clusters growing to exabyte-scale, TGen and its peers must continue to seek out an enterprise approach that emphasizes reliability and scalability and ensures high availability of critical data for 24/7 operations.

Lowey summarizes the future of precision medicine and IT by saying, “The possibilities are endless, but the real trick is to build all of that backend infrastructure to support it.”

To learn more about Dell EMC’s work with TGen, check out our video below.


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Operating at the convergence of Life Science and Healthcare

Sasha Paegle

Sasha Paegle

Sr. Business Development Manager, Life Sciences

Well it’s that time again – time to prepare for Bio-IT World Conference & Expo where our own CTO of Life Sciences, Sanjay Joshi will be hitting the stage.  It’s always a scramble to prepare for all the customer meetings, the exhibits, and (of course) the anticipation of eating fresh New England lobster!

Isilon has “grown up” in life sciences. And as we’ve grown, it’s been incredibly fulfilling to be a part of the advancements in the “must-haves” of life: life sciences, healthcare and technology.

Big Data and the convergence of life sciences and healthcare

Today’s advancements make it cost effective to have your personal genome sequenced at your local lab, and the relevant genomic and medical data sent to you and your doctor packaged in an email. On the healthcare side, it’s all about personalization and improving your health through diagnoses and treatment that fits your individual genetic profile.

At the heart (excuse the pun) of all this convergence is big data.  At Isilon we’re all about big data—including new ways of addressing the challenges of cataloging, analysis strategies, and security it brings along.

Continuing the Journey

In parallel with the amazing advances in technology, Isilon has cultivated and attracted a great mix of customers and industry partners. It’s what keeps us on the leading edge—helping the industry blaze new trails in life sciences and healthcare. A perfect example is the blending of Isilon’s native implementation of Hadoop, iRODS (Integrated Rule-Oriented Data System), and Intel’s life sciences-enabling technologies (see the white paper “Life Sciences at RENCI”).

During events like Bio-IT World, it’s gratifying to meet with Isilon users and see the ways in which our products have helped them solve their challenges and improved our lives. In turn we’re appreciative of their contribution to our growth and improvements in our products.  It’s a win-win!

Our continuing investments in life sciences and healthcare are not just on the product side. A meaningful solution requires an entire portfolio of technologies, partnerships, and collaboration venues.  For example, we’re a contributing member of the iRODs Consortium— an open-source data management software that abstracts data control away from storage devices and allows users to improve how they use their data. We’re also a member of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health, and heavily involved in the security working group.

So you can see that we’re in this technology race for the long haul. We bring along dedication, knowledge, and ingenuity along to help our customers and industry partners keep apace of the new trends and technology.  Come see us at Booth 257 at Bio-IT World—oh, and get some lobster while you’re in Boston!


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