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Co-creation between Hitachi companies, partners and customers like the Queensland Brain Institute, is advancing the technology that underpins neuroscience and disease research, supporting the ground-breaking discoveries that will lead to much-needed treatments and cures.
Why do some people fall ill with depression, anxiety or schizophrenia? What makes some more susceptible to dementia, Alzheimer’s, and diseases like ALS and Parkinson’s than others? The truth is, there are still many mysteries about the brain and how it actually works.
More than 10.6 million Australians were affected with brain disorders in 2017, and the associated economic burden topped $74 billion that year. As the population ages and people are living longer, the number of Australians afflicted with dementia is expected to triple to 900 thousand by 20501. Yet many existing treatments for illnesses or conditions that affect the brain are old or not effective enough. For some, there are no identified treatments at all.
Neurological, mental health and substance use disorders are expected to have a greater cost to the economy than heart disease, cancer, and respiratory disease combined.2 The monetary costs pale in comparison to the impacts on those who suffer from these disorders, and their loved ones.
Australian Brain Disorder and Disease Stats [Source: Queensland Brain Institute]
Thankfully, neuroscience technology is rapidly advancing, allowing researchers to study the brain at all different levels and with a variety of approaches. This work is critical to Australians and the global community. Yet researchers cannot achieve scientific discoveries without the technology to support their efforts.
Neuroscience is now a partnership between biology, engineering and computation. Success will be achieved through co-creation and collaboration between science and industry, and Hitachi is playing a role working with customers such as the Queensland Brain Institute.
＂Scientific discovery literally can’t happen in this day and age without the technology to underpin it with extreme capability. - Jake Carroll, Associate Director of Institutes Research Computing at the University of Queensland.＂
The Queensland Brain Institute (QBI), at the University of Queensland in Australia, was established in 2003 and is home to nearly 500 scientists and 42 laboratory leaders. Its researchers have made important advances towards the understanding, diagnoses and treatment of diseases such as ageing dementia, schizophrenia and motor neurone disease.
QBI’s activities range from basic biology to genomics, complex imaging, electrophysiology and super-resolution microscopy. All this very quickly adds up to massive data storage and management requirements.
Put it this way: at QBI there are hundreds of researchers running simultaneous simulations. Just one of its devices can generate seven terabytes of data in an hour. Another experiment produces 500 terabytes each day. They’re using supercomputers to run analyses against the data produced by each of their research devices, and even applying modern day analytics to historical data to revisit archived brain images for new insights. Over the years, QBI’s has generated 22 petabytes of unstructured research data. That’s over three million hours of constant Ultra HD streaming on a popular video streaming service.3
Remember that ‘rapidly advancing’ neuroscience technology mentioned above? The technology and tools that allow researchers to undertake the study of neuroscience continue to allow more comprehensive interrogation of different parts of the brain, yielding more and deeper data for analysis. Simply put, that means QBI’s massive data management requirements are only going to grow. Exponentially.
Finding an effective solution falls to Jake Carroll, Associate Director of Institutes Research Computing at the University of Queensland. His job is to ensure QBI’s technology and infrastructure works as fast as it can to make its researcher’s work go as fast as it can – without bottlenecks – so they can achieve a better time to discovery.
They can’t do it alone. To deliver the right technology mix to meet the Institute’s increasing data management requirements, QBI turned to long-standing technology partners including Hitachi Group company, Hitachi Vantara, to help co-create a tangible solution.
Professor Pankaj Sah, Director at Queensland Brain Institute said before this co-creation effort, there were studies the Institute wanted to undertake but they couldn’t handle the extreme computing and data requirements. Now QBI researchers can generate more detailed, wide-ranging and interesting questions of the data they capture every day. This means more complex studies can be undertaken, more quickly. For example. a clinical study collecting, transferring and analysing data on 10 patients used to take nearly six months. Now it can be realistically completed in one week; a fraction of the time previously needed!
Neuroscience at QBI is supported by data management technology and infrastructure co-created with Hitachi Vantara and others within its partner ecosystem, who are willing to explore the edges and boundaries of neuroscientific research computing.
The Queensland Brain Institute researchers now enjoy improved capabilities for conducting research with high value to society, as well as the ability to publish pioneering research and compete for the critical grants that keep the life-saving work going.
Solution By: Hitachi Vantara ANZ
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