The Possibilities of Cloud in the Life Sciences Industry

By Bruce Maches

April 20, 2010

I am excited to have this opportunity to blog about the impact and usage of cloud-based HPC computing technologies on the life sciences industry. I have seen a lot of new technologies come and go in my 32 years in IT and feel that cloud computing will have a tremendous positive impact on life science companies. To offer a bit of background, my experience ranges from junior programmer to CIO/Director—I’ve spent more than half my career either working with or consulting to many life science companies such as Pfizer, Lilly, Amylin, Abbott Vascular, and Elan.

Since this is the first blog entry I thought I would provide some background information on the industry and commonly used terms, the drug development R&D process, FDA regulatory environment and current industry challenges.

The term life science is a rather loose definition but encompasses three basic types of companies:
 
• Pharmaceuticals – this usually refers to the big multi-product firms such as Pfizer, Lilly, Merck, Glaxo Smith Kline etc.

• Bio-tech – loosely defines smaller research oriented companies that are focused on one product or one therapeutic area, many not commercialized yet
 

• Medical device – companies that make products that can be used externally or internally in the body and range from tongue depressors to artificial hearts 

These types of companies make up the life science industry and all operate under the regulatory guidelines put forth by the Food & Drug Administration (FDA). The amount of regulatory scrutiny varies greatly depending on the product in question, obviously a company making bandages or an elbow brace would have a much lower regulatory hurdle to pass than a company making heart valve replacements. The IT organizations in these companies must adhere to the FDA guidelines put forth in the Code for Federal Regulations 21 Part 11 – or CFR 21 Part 11, which defines how systems managing electronic records in life science firms must be validated and verified to ensure that the operation of and the information in these systems can be trusted. I will provide more background on CFR 21 Part 11 compliance in another post.

The life science R&D process can be a long and expensive endeavor with current averages of getting a new drug from molecule to market being 10 years and over $900 million for new therapies. It is a terribly expensive process with many new products or drugs not panning out. Added to this dynamic is the fact for new drugs that the exclusive patent has only a life of 20 years before generic competition can emerge. Since the filing of the patent starts prior to the full development process the exclusivity period for the patent after a product comes to market usually ranges from 8 to 10 years. This means that every day you can take off of the development and approval process can translate into millions of dollars in extra sales for a large block buster drug.

The product development process varies by type of drug or device but follows these basic steps which I describe at a very high level:

• Phase 1 – identification of the molecule, initial testing, toxicology studies

• Phase 2 – further development, formulation, human testing

• Phase 3 – full scale double blind clinical trials to test efficacy, submission for FDA approval 

There are many areas where cloud computing can improve and speed up this process by reducing IT complexity and cost while allowing R&D organizations to focus on the ‘what’ of the R&D process in stead of the ‘how’.

Here are some of the topics related to cloud computing and the life sciences that I will be covering in future blog entries.

• Managing/reducing drug development expenses using cloud based technologies
 

• Dealing with the increasingly complex R&D process

• How cloud computing can help in reducing time to market for new therapies

• Facilitation FDA regulatory compliance

• How cloud computing can facilitate the increasing use of complex models (human genome) in the drug R&D process

• Supporting complex data analytics

• How to better manage the exploding amount of data generated as part of the R&D process

• Migration of legacy systems to the cloud

• Data access, regulatory and security issues

I look forward to exploring these topics in-depth and hearing your thoughts and your inputs. If there are other subjects you would like explored please feel free to let me know.

Subscribe to HPCwire's Weekly Update!

Be the most informed person in the room! Stay ahead of the tech trends with industy updates delivered to you every week!

Dell Strikes Reseller Deal with Atos; Supplants SGI

August 22, 2017

Dell EMC and Atos announced a reseller deal today in which Dell will offer Atos’ high-end 8- and 16-socket Bullion servers. Some move from Dell had been expected following Hewlett Packard Enterprise’s purchase of SGI Read more…

By John Russell

Glimpses of Today’s Total Solar Eclipse

August 21, 2017

Here are a few arresting images posted by NASA of today’s total solar eclipse. Such astronomical events have always captured our imagination and it’s not hard to understand why such occurrences were often greeted wit Read more…

By John Russell

Tech Giants Outline Battle Plans for Future HPC Market

August 21, 2017

Four companies engaged in a cage fight for leadership in the emerging HPC market of the 2020s are, despite deep differences in some areas, in violent agreement on at least one thing: the power consumption and latency pen Read more…

By Doug Black

HPE Extreme Performance Solutions

Leveraging Deep Learning for Fraud Detection

Advancements in computing technologies and the expanding use of e-commerce platforms have dramatically increased the risk of fraud for financial services companies and their customers. Read more…

Geospatial Data Research Leverages GPUs

August 17, 2017

MapD Technologies, the GPU-accelerated database specialist, said it is working with university researchers on leveraging graphics processors to advance geospatial analytics. The San Francisco-based company is collabor Read more…

By George Leopold

Tech Giants Outline Battle Plans for Future HPC Market

August 21, 2017

Four companies engaged in a cage fight for leadership in the emerging HPC market of the 2020s are, despite deep differences in some areas, in violent agreement Read more…

By Doug Black

Microsoft Bolsters Azure With Cloud HPC Deal

August 15, 2017

Microsoft has acquired cloud computing software vendor Cycle Computing in a move designed to bring orchestration tools along with high-end computing access capabilities to the cloud. Terms of the acquisition were not disclosed. Read more…

By George Leopold

HPE Ships Supercomputer to Space Station, Final Destination Mars

August 14, 2017

With a manned mission to Mars on the horizon, the demand for space-based supercomputing is at hand. Today HPE and NASA sent the first off-the-shelf HPC system i Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD EPYC Video Takes Aim at Intel’s Broadwell

August 14, 2017

Let the benchmarking begin. Last week, AMD posted a YouTube video in which one of its EPYC-based systems outperformed a ‘comparable’ Intel Broadwell-based s Read more…

By John Russell

Deep Learning Thrives in Cancer Moonshot

August 8, 2017

The U.S. War on Cancer, certainly a worthy cause, is a collection of programs stretching back more than 40 years and abiding under many banners. The latest is t Read more…

By John Russell

IBM Raises the Bar for Distributed Deep Learning

August 8, 2017

IBM is announcing today an enhancement to its PowerAI software platform aimed at facilitating the practical scaling of AI models on today’s fastest GPUs. Scal Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Storage Breakthrough Paves Way for 330TB Tape Cartridges

August 3, 2017

IBM announced yesterday a new record for magnetic tape storage that it says will keep tape storage density on a Moore's law-like path far into the next decade. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

AMD Stuffs a Petaflops of Machine Intelligence into 20-Node Rack

August 1, 2017

With its Radeon “Vega” Instinct datacenter GPUs and EPYC “Naples” server chips entering the market this summer, AMD has positioned itself for a two-head Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

How ‘Knights Mill’ Gets Its Deep Learning Flops

June 22, 2017

Intel, the subject of much speculation regarding the delayed, rewritten or potentially canceled “Aurora” contract (the Argonne Lab part of the CORAL “ Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Nvidia’s Mammoth Volta GPU Aims High for AI, HPC

May 10, 2017

At Nvidia's GPU Technology Conference (GTC17) in San Jose, Calif., this morning, CEO Jensen Huang announced the company's much-anticipated Volta architecture a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Reinders: “AVX-512 May Be a Hidden Gem” in Intel Xeon Scalable Processors

June 29, 2017

Imagine if we could use vector processing on something other than just floating point problems.  Today, GPUs and CPUs work tirelessly to accelerate algorithms Read more…

By James Reinders

Russian Researchers Claim First Quantum-Safe Blockchain

May 25, 2017

The Russian Quantum Center today announced it has overcome the threat of quantum cryptography by creating the first quantum-safe blockchain, securing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, along with classified government communications and other sensitive digital transfers. Read more…

By Doug Black

Quantum Bits: D-Wave and VW; Google Quantum Lab; IBM Expands Access

March 21, 2017

For a technology that’s usually characterized as far off and in a distant galaxy, quantum computing has been steadily picking up steam. Just how close real-wo Read more…

By John Russell

Nvidia Responds to Google TPU Benchmarking

April 10, 2017

Nvidia highlights strengths of its newest GPU silicon in response to Google's report on the performance and energy advantages of its custom tensor processor. Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Groq This: New AI Chips to Give GPUs a Run for Deep Learning Money

April 24, 2017

CPUs and GPUs, move over. Thanks to recent revelations surrounding Google’s new Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), the computing world appears to be on the cusp of Read more…

By Alex Woodie

HPC Compiler Company PathScale Seeks Life Raft

March 23, 2017

HPCwire has learned that HPC compiler company PathScale has fallen on difficult times and is asking the community for help or actively seeking a buyer for its a Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Leading Solution Providers

Trump Budget Targets NIH, DOE, and EPA; No Mention of NSF

March 16, 2017

President Trump’s proposed U.S. fiscal 2018 budget issued today sharply cuts science spending while bolstering military spending as he promised during the cam Read more…

By John Russell

Google Debuts TPU v2 and will Add to Google Cloud

May 25, 2017

Not long after stirring attention in the deep learning/AI community by revealing the details of its Tensor Processing Unit (TPU), Google last week announced the Read more…

By John Russell

CPU-based Visualization Positions for Exascale Supercomputing

March 16, 2017

In this contributed perspective piece, Intel’s Jim Jeffers makes the case that CPU-based visualization is now widely adopted and as such is no longer a contrarian view, but is rather an exascale requirement. Read more…

By Jim Jeffers, Principal Engineer and Engineering Leader, Intel

Six Exascale PathForward Vendors Selected; DoE Providing $258M

June 15, 2017

The much-anticipated PathForward awards for hardware R&D in support of the Exascale Computing Project were announced today with six vendors selected – AMD Read more…

By John Russell

Top500 Results: Latest List Trends and What’s in Store

June 19, 2017

Greetings from Frankfurt and the 2017 International Supercomputing Conference where the latest Top500 list has just been revealed. Although there were no major Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

IBM Clears Path to 5nm with Silicon Nanosheets

June 5, 2017

Two years since announcing the industry’s first 7nm node test chip, IBM and its research alliance partners GlobalFoundries and Samsung have developed a proces Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

Messina Update: The US Path to Exascale in 16 Slides

April 26, 2017

Paul Messina, director of the U.S. Exascale Computing Project, provided a wide-ranging review of ECP’s evolving plans last week at the HPC User Forum. Read more…

By John Russell

Graphcore Readies Launch of 16nm Colossus-IPU Chip

July 20, 2017

A second $30 million funding round for U.K. AI chip developer Graphcore sets up the company to go to market with its “intelligent processing unit” (IPU) in Read more…

By Tiffany Trader

  • arrow
  • Click Here for More Headlines
  • arrow
Share This