Imagine a future with genomic data

Crispin Keable

Head of Big Data & HPC

Anne-Marie Balfour

Cybersecurity Director at Atos

Posted on: 30 January 2020

Imagine a future where every child born has a genome read at birth. It may sound a little scary, but it would mean that as the child grows, their doctors will know which treatments are most effective for a given condition, whether the growing child is more at risk of particular diseases, how they tolerate certain drugs and what might happen in later life from conditions like dementia.

Now imagine the consequences of losing this data! Today we think it is bad news if our credit card data is stolen, how much worse would it be to lose your genetic makeup to a bad actor? Will people with particular genetics be penalized in their health insurance costs? How can we afford giant computers at every hospital to deliver the benefits?

The Atos approach is to build a protected, private cloud environment. This means the expensive resource, the supercomputer, can be shared between multiple hospitals and health care facilities.  With an architecture like this, we can provide edge computing at the hospitals to do the initial data processing to minimize wide-area data traffic. This means we can optimize the use of the really expensive resource – the geneticists and bio-informaticians. Edge systems will be centrally monitored and managed, meaning the latest algorithm developments can be spun out across the community automatically.

From a security standpoint, Atos has the tools and processes in place today to ensure the genome data, personal data, and other individual data are not all kept in a single place on a single system – it can only ever come together under the authority of the correctly qualified physician. Data is only available for them to read and not to print and available only for a limited time to prevent data leakage. Data is encrypted at source, and keys are managed.

The best aspect of this architecture is that we have the benchmarks, reference architectures, expertise and business practices to allow us to do the translation between the genome and the computing. What this means is that instead of having to charge for particular bits of infrastructure, we can charge as a service by numbers of patients treated. This means the architecture is flexibly scalable.  It would also allow in the future for it to be monetized if the need arises and regulations allow.

Join us at The Festival of Genomics - the largest Genomics event in the UK. In partnership with Intel, Atos have an exhibition stand showing our Blade server, as well as a keynote speech from Michael McManus, Principal Engineer at Intel, who will show how we understand the challenges of the genomics community and further these through our technologies. Follow #FoGenomics to learn more.

This blog was written during the Co-Creation Market challenge at the Atos 2nd Expert Convention

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About Crispin Keable

HEAD OF BIG DATA AND HPC and member of the Scientific Community
With over 25 years’ experience in supercomputing, Crispin has worked through the evolution of High Performance Computing (HPC) from proprietary systems in hardware and software to open standards, open source and commodity technologies. He works with a wide range of scientific and technology organizations to help define, translate and realize their technical and simulation goals.

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About Anne-Marie Balfour

Cybersecurity Director at Atos
Experienced Manager Security Services with a demonstrated history of working in the security, information technology, and services industry. Skilled in Cybersecurity, Governance, ISO 27001, Service-Level Agreements (SLA), IT Strategy, Data Center, and Management. Actively championing STEM activity to further the industry.

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