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Public Health England using big data to fight infectious disease

Public Health England (PHE), an executive agency of the Department of Health (DoH), is using a new Big Data storage system alongside high-performance computing (HPC) to sequence infectious diseases.

Based on DataDirect Networks (DDN), the system enables faster and effective analysis of genome sequences, allowing PHE diagnostics and surveillance activities to aid in the fight against illness.

IT systems provider OCF implemented, configured and integrated the Big Data system for the organisation.

According to PHE, this allows it to support Prime Minister David Cameron’s 2012 100,000 Genome Project that aims to decode the DNA code of up to 100,000 patients.

The Big Data system supports the health organisation across its laboratories in England that receive thousands of biological samples each week from clients with unidentified pathogens needing identification urgently.

PHE aiming to be world leader

PHE claims that the project is aiding it towards its goal of being a leader in the adoption of genomics in clinical microbiology to support public health interventions in a quicker and more cost effective manner.

“The team at PHE realises the benefits of HPC and Big Data storage and is using both to set the standards for the rest of the world to follow,” claimed OCF managing director Julian Fielden.

“PHE is pioneering use of DNA bacterial sequence data to provide a public service. It’s the first project of its type in the world,” he added.

“PHE’s applied work and support for research are extraordinary examples of how HPC improves our daily lives,” claimed Laura Shepard, director of HPC markets at DDN.