Bio-IT World 2014: Notes from the Expo Floor

April 30, 2014

By Bio-IT World Staff 
April 30, 2014 | The Bio-IT World Conference & Expo kicked yesterday evening with a fantastic opening keynote address from John Quackenbush, CEO of GenoSpace and professor at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Harvard School of Public Health, and a packed welcome reception on the Expo Hall floor. Over 2,800 life sciences, pharmaceutical, clinical, healthcare, and IT professionals from more than 30 countries are joining us for three days of programming across 13 tracks.  
Quackenbush started the event by noting that every revolution in science has been driven by access to data, and the genomic medicine revolution is no exception. Now, the cost of sequencing is within reach, and biomedicine’s big data will continue to increase in the 3 V's: Volume, Velocity and Variety. 
Quackenbush argued that to tackle these challenges, we need to be aware of the most important ‘omics in precision medicine: economics. He argued in favor of the cloud, and said that data needs to be secure and accessible. In terms of technology, he warned about getting too committed to a specific technology, suggesting instead a modular approach so components can easily be switched out if better solutions become available. 
And above all, he warned against silos. Data must include not just genome sequence, but other genomic data like copy number variation, and medical data like lab results, electronic health records and longitudinal data, he said, to be truly transformative. 
He cited two of GenoSpace’s recent projects as examples of the types of integration he’s envisioning: a partnership with the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation building their patient communities, and a collaboration with Thomson Reuters and PathGroup informing physicians about patient data. 
The goal is to make accessible data that researchers can play with in any way they want, and not to limit the types of questions that can be asked. Users of the GenoSpace platform have told him it’s addictive, he said, and he believes that’s exactly what playing with the data should be. 
Notes from the Expo Floor 
But Quackenbush’s keynote wasn’t the only conversation starter of the day, as last night’s packed Expo floor will testify. Here’s a brief summary of some of the news and announcements made thus far. More is expected this week, including announcement of the 2014 Bio-IT World Best Practices Award Winners later this morning, and the announcement of the 2014 Bio-IT World Best of Show Winners this evening.  
This morning, Silicon Mechanics announced the recipient of its 3rd Annual Research Cluster Grant, a great program in which the company and its partners donate a complete high-performance compute cluster. The 2014 winner is Wayne State University (WSU), located in midtown Detroit. Wayne State has annual research expenditures of nearly $260 million. The grant application was submitted jointly by two interdisciplinary collaborative research teams, and includes both computer scientists and domain scientists focusing on chemistry, mathematics, physics, and biology, along with cancer and biomedical research. Learn more about the grant and Silicon Mechanics computer offerings at Booth #361. 
On Friday, the state of Massachusetts announced a $3 million capital investment to kick off the Massachusetts Open Cloud Project, a university-industry collaboration to drive big data innovation through the creation of a new kind of public cloud computing infrastructure for Massachusetts. The initiative, led by Orran Krieger, Founding Director for the Center for Cloud Innovation at Boston University, expects funding to exceed $16 million in a mix of federal, industry, and philanthropic sources, and hopes to establish a test-bed and marketplace where hardware, software, and services can be developed, supplied, purchased, and resold. The project envisions an space where different groups can innovate different parts of the cloud environment together. Think of the cloud as we now know it as Walmart, Krieger said. We want to build a mall. The project boasts a list of industry partners, several of which are exhibiting at Bio-IT World. Learn more about the Mass Open Cloud Project from SGI (Booth #344); EMC (Booth #257); Dell (Booth #225); DataDirect Networks (Booth #245); and Cambridge Computer Services (Booth #433)
A couple of months ago, Annai Systems announced a project with the International Cancer Genome Consortium to provide its Annai GNOS data management software in support of six data centers around the world that will house a large data set for the Pan Cancer Project. Today, the company announced Annai-ShareSeq Genomic Resource: a high-value genomic data repository and infrastructure-as-a-service. ShareSeq offers unmatched access to public and private datasets in a unified environment designed for genomics, the company said. Learn more at Booth #417. 
Bina Technologies today announced the early release of the Bina Annotation Platform, what the company promises is the fastest, most scalable annotation solution available on the market, empowering scientists to access more than 130 annotation features and search, filter, and annotate their variant files in a fraction of a second. Users can define and save custom and multi-level filters using any combination of important associations and functional databases available on the platform. The new product is the newest addition to Bina’s product line, which recently grew by the Bina Desktop offering. Learn more at Booth # 260. 
Seven Bridges Genomics announced its new appliance today, which combines BioTeam’s high-performance SlipStream Appliance with Seven Bridges’ bioinformatic operating system to offer local and hybrid solutions for next generation sequencing informatics. Seven Bridges Genomics hosts the largest commercial repository of next generation sequencing (NGS) tools in the world today. The Seven Bridges Appliance will offer an alternative solution to using these tools in the cloud. It opens up the power and ease-of-use of Seven Bridges’ operating system to researchers within regulatory jurisdictions that are not yet cloud-friendly or who don’t have consistent access to high speed internet connections. For exceptional workloads, the Seven Bridges Appliance will have the ability to “burst to the cloud,” offering the first unified hybrid solution. See the appliance at the Seven Bridges booth, #448, and learn more about SlipStream at the BioTeam booth, #324.
This morning Tessella announced the launch of the Tessella Analytics Partnership for Life Sciences organizations. The Partnership provides organizations with specialist analytics consulting via a flexible service model, so that groups conducting challenging research projects have access to a constant stream of support for key decisions. Each “sub-project” may be relatively short, but the Partnership is ideal for many such projects requiring a wide variety of skills, to address needs that tend to emerge at short notice. 
Illumina announced the launch of VeriSeq PGS, a next-generation sequencing (NGS) solution developed for preimplantation genetic screening (PGS) of embryos using Illumina's NextSeq 500 and MiSeq sequencing systems. The offering brings together the industry-leading Illumina 24sure array-based platform for PGS with Illumina's next-generation sequencing (NGS) technology to offer laboratories a more scalable PGS solution. To learn more, visit Booth #233. 
Yesterday, Certara announced the launch of its Pre-clinical Safety Store (PCSS). A companion product to D360, Certara’s integrated solution for the query, analysis and visualization of drug discovery and development data (see, “Pfizer Transitions to D360 Drug Discovery Platform”), PCSS enables the capture and validation of file-based pre-clinical study data in a CDISC-SEND architected database, meeting FDA recommendations for standardization of data formats for study data in regulatory submissions. Pharmaceutical customers who pair the two products will be able to access pre-clinical study data from contract research organizations (CROs) in minutes, in a consistent format, for study monitoring and cross-study analysis. PCSS also offers a terminology mapping tool that provides a consistent view of study data from multiple sources. Certara will be demonstrating PCSS in Booth #325.
Ayasdi launched Ayasdi Cure at Bio-IT World, a new application designed to help pharmaceutical and biotech companies accelerate the drug discovery process by 50% in the era of precision medicine. Ayasdi Cure runs on Ayasdi's award-winning machine learning platform, which merges hundreds of algorithms with Topological Data Analysis (TDA) and obviates the need for queries or coding. The company also announced technology partnerships with Intel and CLC bio. Ayasdi Cure is optimized for Intel Xeon processor features including the Intel Machine Learning Kernel (MKL) libraries and Intel Advanced Vector Extensions (AVX). The optimization improved Ayasdi’s performance by 400%. CLC bio will be providing all 2,500 CLC bio customer organizations with access to Ayasdi Cure, through a seamless integration with CLC bio's bioinformatics platform. Ayasdi is available to talk about Ayasdi Cure and both partnerships at Booth #145. 
The Bio-IT World Best of Show competition is a new product showcase. This year’s competition was steep but nine companies and their products made it to the finalist round. Judges will be on site today and winners will be announced this evening. But be sure to check out all nine worthy finalists: 
Aspera; Aspera Drive at Booth # 356
Avere System; Avere FXT Server for Cloud NAS at Booth # 437
Ayasdi; Ayasdi Cure at Booth # 145
Cambridge Semantics; Anzo Pharma Information Workbench v1 at Booth # 249
Cycle Computing; SubmitOnce v 4.6 at Booth # 360
Edico Genome; DRAGEN wavefront processor at Booth #221
Genospace; GenoSpace for Clinical Care at Booth # 234
Sinequa; Sinequa ES V9 at Booth # 252
StudyLog; Studylog Animal Study Workflow Software, v3.1 at Booth # 427