Computational Challenges in Genomics Research

Headshot of Stephen Welle, Ph.D., Director of the Functional Genomics Center
Stephen Welle, Ph.D.

The Center for Integrated Research Computing (CIRC) held its monthly symposium on November 18, featuring Stephen Welle, Ph.D., Director of the Functional Genomics Center (FGC).  The focus of the symposium was to discuss genomics research and the challenges of this computationally intensive field.

Genomics is the study of the entire DNA sequence (a genome) of an organism, which can help scientists better understand gene disorders and other health issues.  The FGC at the University of Rochester is a core facility that supports all aspects of genomics research including data generation, sequence alignments, statistical analysis, and bioinformatics.

Modern genomics research generates large amounts of data when analyzing the unique structures of genomes.  Therefore, the major computational challenges for genomics research deal with statistical analysis and database management.  According to Welle, when analyzing the data of genomes, “the computational effort is substantial not only because of the large amount of information, but also the multitude of possible variations per [DNA] sequence.”  The CIRC is currently helping the FGC process, analyze, and store large data sets produced by next-generation sequencing instruments.

The future of genomics research will continue to deal with the challenges of archiving and studying this data.  The FGC and CIRC will work closely together when testing new mediums for data storage, as well as commercial and open-source software for data analysis.

Visit the CIRC’s website for more details regarding resources available to University researchers and future symposiums.