Penn State Awarded $5.8 Million Grant to Expand Galaxy Biomedical Analysis Software
18 June 2012 — Galaxy -- an open-source, web-based platform for data-intensive biomedical and genetic research -- will be expanded with support from a new U41 research grant from the National Institutes of Health. "The Galaxy system will have an important impact on public health," said Anton Nekrutenko, an associate professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State University and one of Galaxy's designers. "This project will make cutting-edge DNA-sequencing and analysis software, as well as storage capacity for large quantities of scientific data, available to clinical researchers in all parts of the world."
Nekrutenko, along with James Taylor at Emory University, developed the Galaxy technology at Penn State in 2005. Galaxy solves many of the problems that researchers in biology, biochemistry, and genetics laboratories encounter. The system pulls together a variety of tools that allow for easy retrieval and analysis of large amounts of data, simplifying the process of genomic analysis. Galaxy also offers scientific transparency -- the option of creating a public report of analyses. For example, after a paper has been published, scientists in other labs can do studies in order to reproduce the published research results.
More recently, team members developed a "cloud-computing" option for Galaxy users. "Such a system allows users, no matter where they are in the world, to shift the workload of software storage, data storage, and hardware infrastructure to this remote location of networked computers," Nekrutenko said. "That is, researchers need not invest in expensive computer infrastructure to be able to perform data-intensive, sophisticated scientific analyses, and even a scientist without much computer training can use DNA-analysis tools that might not otherwise be accessible."
Now, thanks to the new grant, Nekrutenko and his team will expand the Galaxy resource, creating innovative methods to automate analysis tools. "We will build and maintain the Galaxy Tool Shed, a hub for sharing tools, best-practice workflows, and analysis strategies," Nekrutenko said. "We also will develop a novel approach for publishing analyses. We will create a framework for visual analytics leveraging existing Galaxy Tools. Finally, we will build a complete solution for managing DNA-sequencing workflows, including sample tracking and instrument integration."
Galaxy and Galaxy Cloud development was supported, primarily, by the U.S. National Institutes of Health and the U.S. National Science Foundation. Additional funding was provided by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and by two research institutes at Penn State University: the Huck Institutes of the Life Sciences and the Institute for CyberScience.
More information about Galaxy is online at http://www.galaxyproject.org.