COVID-19 Research Project Lands Best HPC Collaboration Award

Together with university partners and UK public health organizations, Dell Technologies shares a ‘Best HPC Collaboration’ award from HPCwire.

In the global fight against COVID-19, teamwork is everything. Around the world, teams of researchers from universities, institutes and corporations are working together to unlock the secrets of the new coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, and identify potential cures for the deadly disease it causes.

At Dell Technologies, our data scientists and IT professionals are part of this shared quest to innovate with data. To that end, we work with a wide range of research-driven organizations to help them use high performance computing systems and massive amounts of data to sequence the genome of the virus and explore how it is mutating and spreading.

One of these teams is the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK), which brings together experts from across the UK National Health Service (NHS), academia and public health agencies for large-scale, rapid sequencing and analysis of samples from positive COVID-19 cases. This information can then be quickly shared with hospitals, the NHS and the government to help inform their responses to the pandemic.

And this brings us to the news: HPCwire recently recognized an extended team working with the COG-UK Consortium with a Readers’ Choice Award for Best HPC Collaboration (Academia/Government/Industry). In announcing the award, HPCwire recognized NHS organizations, UK public health agencies, Wellcome Sanger Institute, more than a dozen academic partners in the COG-UK Consortium and technology partners including Dell Technologies.

This consortium runs workloads via the UK’s Cloud Infrastructure for Microbial Bioinformatics (CLIMB) project on systems implemented by Birmingham and Cardiff University in partnership with Dell Technologies and others. The CLIMB project is dedicated to developing and deploying a world-leading cyber-infrastructure for microbial bioinformatics, including cloud-based compute, storage and analysis tools, for microbiologists across the UK.

The fight against COVID-19 is all about teamwork — which is definitely the case with the COG-UK Consortium. Working together, the participants in the consortium have conducted real-time sequencing of tens of thousands of samples from positive COVID-19 cases in the UK.

The Cardiff connection

At Cardiff University in Wales, a team of scientists is working with the COG-UK Consortium in its far-reaching sequencing efforts. This team is led by Dr. Thomas Connor, a distinguished researcher of the Cardiff sequencing center, under the umbrella of COG-UK.

“By analyzing samples from people who have had confirmed cases of COVID-19, scientists can monitor changes in the virus at a national scale to understand how the virus is spreading and whether different strains are emerging,” Dr. Connor says in a Cardiff University news release. “Having this information available will help in the clinical care of patients — and ultimately help to save lives.”

Among the many hats he wears, Dr. Connor serves as principal investigator for the CLIMB project’s Cardiff division. Dr. Connor leads this project at Cardiff University with support from Supercomputing Wales to supply COG-UK with the computational resources needed to share and analyze the large volumes of COVID-19 genomics data that is generated across the UK.

In these efforts, Dr. Connor and his colleagues are building on a longstanding relationship with Dell Technologies. The team works to enable CLIMB’s capacity to share and analyze large volumes of COVID-19 genomics data. With this solution, the Cardiff University has the potential to sequence samples within 24 hours, allowing for real-time responses.

For a closer look at the genome sequencing work conducted at Cardiff University, including the HPC systems that make it all possible, read the Dell Technologies case study “Unleashing the power of genomics.”

About the Author: Janet Morss

Janet Morss previously worked at Dell Technologies, specializing in  machine learning (ML) and high performance computing (HPC) product marketing.