ESnet Workshop Report Outlines Data Management Needs in Metagenomics, Precision Medicine

William Barnett, the chief research informatics officer for the Indiana Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute (CTSI) and the Regenstrief Institute at Indiana University, discusses the promise of precision medicine at the workshop.

Like most areas of research, the bioinformatics sciences community is facing an unprecedented explosion in the size and number of data sets being created, spurred largely by the decreasing cost of genome sequencing technology. As a result there is a critical need for more effective tools for data management, analysis and access.

Adding to the complexity, two major fields in bioinformatics – precision medicine and metagenomics – have unique data challenges and needs. To help address the situation, a workshop was organized by the Department of Energy’s Energy Sciences Network (ESnet) in 2016 at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. Organized as part of a series of CrossConnects workshops, the two-day meeting brought together scientists from metagenomics and precision medicine, along with experts in computing and networking.

A report outlining the findings and recommendations from the workshop was published Dec. 19, 2017 in Standards in Genomic Sciences. The report reflected the input of 59 attendees from 39 organizations.

One driver for publishing the report was the realization that although each of the two focus areas have unique requirements, workshop discussions revealed several areas where the needs overlapped, said ESnet’s Kate Mace, lead author of the report. In particular, the issue of data management loomed largest.

Read a summary of the findings and recommendations from the workshop.