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Microsoft joins venture to promote biomedical research

biomedical research story

US technology company Microsoft and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have joined up to boost biomedical research efforts.

Specifically, Microsoft’s Azure cloud services will help the NIH’s Science and Technology Research Infrastructure for Discovery, Experimentation and Sustainability (STRIDES) Initiative by providing support and facilitating cloud-based collaborative work.

The use of cloud-based services in biomedical research will help reduce both financial as well as procedural obstacles.

“To date, NIH has helped more than 425 research programs and projects leverage cloud resources through the STRIDES Initiative,” an NIH statement said.

“Collectively, researchers have used more than 83 million hours of computational resources to access and analyse more than 115 petabytes of high-value biomedical data in the cloud. This is equivalent to 2.3 million four-drawer filing cabinets full of text,” the statement added.

Microsoft has detailed that their Azure service’s artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities will assist the institute in their efforts to make data analysis and processing, data storage and large dataset analysis more efficient.

“We believe the cloud can help democratise access to the most advanced analytical technologies and enable researchers to perform complex analyses without the need for local infrastructure,” Director of NIH’s Centre for Information Technology and NIH Chief Information Officer Andrea T Norris said.

“Expanding our network of providers and access to the most advanced computational infrastructure, tools and services provides the flexibility that our researchers need to move research forward,” Norris added.

“Partnering with Microsoft Azure as a cloud service provider furthers our goal to enhance discovery and improve efficiency in biomedical research,” Norris concluded.

This is not the first time Microsoft has partnered up with medical or other scientific organisation, since earlier this year the company partnered up with the Broad Institute and Verily to promote biomedicine research and new ideas in that field.

To achieve that, Microsoft had created a secure, open-source biomedical research platform called Terra. Terra is also able to be scaled up proportionally to the demands and requirements the project comes to have in the future.

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