STA members offer data support for COVID-19 research

Australian leaders in high-performance computing (HPC) have come together to offer additional computation and data resources in the fight against the global COVID-19 pandemic.

NCI_GadiSupercomputer

COVID-19 Accelerated Access Initiatives from the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre and the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI Australia) will help research projects analyse, store and share data.

Services available include high-performance computing on the NCI’s new Gadi supercomputer – the most powerful in Australia – and cloud resources through Pawsey Supercomputing Centre’s large data stores with up to 100TB of storage available.

The Pawsey Cloud service, which officially opened on 1 April 2020, is being re-prioritised to support researchers involved in COVID-19 research gain accelerated access.

Five projects have already been granted allocations for cloud resources through Pawsey Supercomputing Centre to bolster COVID-19 research. They include The University of Western Australia, Monash University, WA Department of Health, the Queensland Facility for Advanced Bioinformatics and Telethon Kids Institute.

Pawsey Executive Director Mark Stickells and NCI Director Professor Sean Smith, came together to discuss opportunities to support varying scientific communities tackle the pandemic.

“A number of researchers are forming collaborative teams across government, health and university sectors and identified a need for HPC access,” Mr Stickells said.

“In pandemic situations such as the COVID 19, accelerating breakthroughs is a matter of life or death. This initiative is about accelerating scientific outcomes.”

“Having access to resources like the ones available at Pawsey and NCI is an opportunity for Australian researchers to contribute to mitigating the pandemic in the least amount of time possible.”

Both NCI and Pawsey Supercomputing Centre would provide dedicated code optimisation, workflow debugging, visualisation expertise, and data management support as required.

Professor Smith stated that the interest in access to NCI’s HPC and data services was immense.

“To date we have received over ten applications from leading research groups, who have the capacity to drive Australia’s research efforts in this global fight,” Professor Smith said.

The services are available to Australian researchers working on projects to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. The services will support critical COVID-19 research in areas such as:

  • Processing and analysing gene sequences;
  • Mathematical modelling predicting transmission and containment;
  • Computational predictions and biomolecular modelling of protein structures;
  • Economic modelling of the COVID-19 global pandemic;
  • Population mapping and demographics;
  • Global biosecurity; and
  • Epidemiological modelling.

Science & Technology Australia Chief Executive Misha Schubert said it was inspiring to see Australia’s technological workforce coming together to tackle COVID-19.

“Thank you to NCI and Pawsey Supercomputing for opening these facilities to Australia’s research community in the fight with COVID-19. It’s a powerful resource for our nation in such a time of need,” Ms Schubert said.

“This is also a testament to why long-term, large-scale investments in critical national research infrastructure matter. These huge specialist facilities will speed our advances to save lives, protect our frontline health workers, and help our nation through this crisis.”

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