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Canada Building Genomics Platform for National-Scale, Federated Analyses

November 27, 2018
by David Raths, Contributing Editor
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New services are called CHORD for ‘Canadian Health ‘Omics Repository, Distributed’

The nonprofit Canadian Network for the Advancement of Research Industry and Education (CANARIE) has announced funding for software development for nine national data services, including one for genomics. In genomics, the service will be built upon CanDIG — the Canadian Distributed Infrastructure for Genomics, which provides a national platform for enabling large-scale genomic analyses across private datasets controlled by local institutions.

CanDIG is a project building a health genomics platform for national-scale, federated analyses over locally controlled private data sets. It is funded by the CFI Cyberinfrastructure program and connects sites at McGill University, Hospital for Sick Children, UHN Princess Margaret Cancer Centre, Canada’s Michael Smith Genome Sciences Centre, Jewish General Hospital and Université de Sherbrooke. It is also a collaboration with Genome Canada, Compute Canada and CANARIE.

The new funding will allow support for a broader range of new data types (collectively called “‘omics” data), such as RNA sequencing and expression data, as well as more automation and a richer set of access and quality controls to make the platform more accessible to a wider range of researchers. The new set of services are called CHORD, for “Canadian Health ‘Omics Repository, Distributed”, and the project is led by Guillaume Bourque, Ph.D., at the Canadian Center for Computational Genomics (C3G) at McGill University.

“The CHORD project addresses real problems for genomic research across Canada,” said Bourque, in a prepared statement. “Discoveries in this field come from availability of large national sets of consented data; if a researcher can’t find the data they need to perform their analyses, important biological questions don’t get answered.”

“CanDIG is a very solid foundation for this project,” said Prof. Michael Brudno, principal investigator of CanDIG and director of the Centre for Computational Medicine at the Hospital for Sick Children at the University of Toronto, in a statement. “Our federated approach to making data available for analysis while strictly controlling direct access is exactly what is needed for health data service, and our international collaborations as part of the Global Alliance for Genomics and Health (GA4GH) will ensure the new services we build are internationally interoperable and best-practice.”




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