Towards the end of last year BioTeam was honored to receive an NIH Director’s award as part of a team that helped establish the first African Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics. The team worked with NIAID and the University of Sciences, Techniques, and Technology (USTTB) in Bamako, Mali to build a classroom space with modern bioinformatics workstations engineered for optimal communication and learning. This work has equipped local Malian researchers with the infrastructure, tools, training, and mentorship to conduct advanced, large-scale bioinformatics research. Other collaborators in this project included the Intel Corporation Health and Life Sciences Group, Hewlett Packard Corporation, EMC Corporation, and the Foundation for NIH.
BioTeam’s contribution to the new computing lab in Mali was a customized version of our BioTeam Appliance Galaxy Edition solution built onto a high-end HPE ProLiant DL580 Gen8 Server provided by Intel. The configuration of this system consists of a four-socket x86 server with four Intel E7-4800v2 processors, 1TB of random access memory, and a direct-attached HPE D6000 Disk Enclosure loaded with 50 4TB Near Line Serial Attached SCSI (SAS) hard disks for local storage. This configuration is optimized for the data and memory intensive nature of commonly used bioinformatics software such as the Genome Analysis Toolkit (GATK), Burrows-Wheeler Aligner (BWA), and Basic Local Alignment Search Tool (BLAST). The SlipStream appliance was installed at the Mali International Center for Excellence in Research (ICER), located opposite the USTTB campus, across the Niger River. The Center for Excellence and ICER are connected via a new, one Gb link that provides high-speed access to the Internet and computational resources.
BioTeam’s appliance comes preloaded with an implementation of the Galaxy scientific workflow, data integration, and analysis platform. The functionality our appliances provide out of the box allow researchers to be able to do science on day 1, avoiding common IT hurdles that traditionally get in the way. In order to take advantage of the unique processor core count, memory size, and storage capacity available with the Intel system BioTeam had to reengineer and customize the standard version of our appliance. The result is a solution capable of fully utilizing all available hardware while supporting numerous users in a classroom training setting. Our custom BioTeam Appliance is deployed and running on-site at USTTB and has been used by researchers from NIAID’s Office of Cyber Infrastructure and Computational Biology (OCICB) as a baseline for in-person and remote training at the Bamako ACE.