On Monday, May 1, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Department of Energy (DOE) announced the formation of a new partnership focused on the secure analysis of large digital health and genomic data, or so-called “big data,” from the VA and other federal sources to help advance health care for Veterans and others in areas such as suicide prevention, cancer and heart disease, while also driving DOE’s next-generation supercomputing designs.
Known as the VA-DOE Big Data Science Initiative, the partnership will be based within DOE’s national laboratory system, one of the world’s top resources for supercomputing. The effort will leverage the latest DOE expertise and technologies in big data, artificial intelligence and high-performance computing to identify trends that will support the development of new treatments and preventive strategies.
DOE’s high-speed Energy Sciences Network, or ESnet, will continue to work with the VA and national labs to create a secure, high-performance connection for data transfer and seamless networking. In particular, ESnet is sharing its expertise in the Science DMZ architecture and perfSONAR network performance characterization to help improve the end-to-end flow of data, which is often the largest obstacle to moving large data sets.
At present, combined DOE/VA teams, including scientists from ANL, LANL, LLNL and ORNL, are working with ESnet, DOE’s international research network that connects all of its science laboratories and facilities. Managed by Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, ESnet is coordinating with an existing protected health information (PHI) enclave at ORNL that will comprise the initial environment for scientific analyses.
Several VA electronic health record (EHR) and MVP data assets have been moved to this secure enclave allowing investigators to access the data and compute resources while ensuring the protection of our Veterans’ data. Direct, high-speed networks between the VA and DOE facilities are expected to be established by June 2017.