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WVCTSI launches first HIPAA-compliant high performance computing system at WVU

The first HIPAA-compliant high performance computing system at West Virginia University (WVU) is launching November 1. The West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute (WVCTSI) procured the system and has been working with information technology experts throughout the university to implement this resource which will greatly enhance big data research using clinical data.

This high performance computing (HPC) system provides researchers a secure, HIPAA-compliant computing solution for large datasets that is faster and more powerful than any individual computer. This platform allows users to model and predict outbreaks, conduct genomic analysis, analyze patient outcomes that include continuous sensor data and large dataset analysis, and analyze medical images.

“Cutting-edge data analytics are absolutely critical to the successful conduct of innovative clinical and translational research in our state,” said Dr. Sally Hodder, WVCTSI director and associate vice president for clinical and translational science at West Virginia University and Preeminent Scholar Chair. “Making a tool like this available to investigators greatly increases the speed and complexity with which large clinical datasets may be analyzed.”

Dr. Brad Price, co-director of WVCTSI’s Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design core, believes this tool is an invaluable resource for researchers in West Virginia. Price mentioned that the HPC will facilitate the use and creation of cutting-edge computational tools to analyze massive amounts of information that will directly impact clinical care in the state.

“Whether it’s understanding how to forecast disease progressions in our communities, creating the next generation of artificial intelligence tools to help clinicians flag issues in patient outcomes, or allowing researchers to better understand preliminary data more quickly to inform better clinical trial designs or secure more grant funding, the new HPC at WVCTSI is a game changing resource,” said Price. “Not only will this tool increase the research productivity of our outstanding clinicians, faculty, and staff, it will directly impact the people of West Virginia through producing the critical insights needed to answer the next generation of questions that will impact health outcomes in the state.”

In addition to the speed and power of this platform, the high performance computing system also improves the safety and security of data by providing HIPAA-compliant infrastructure that eliminates the need for data to be sent to outside institutions for further analysis.

“The HPC is going to give researchers a centralized resource that can be used to run their big data modeling,” said Wes Kimble, director of research data analytics with WVCTSI. “This is going to take away the need to transfer so much PHI out of the institution to be run on external systems. Having this resource available will preclude the need for investigators to purchase their own standalone machines for high performance computing. I really think the resource is going to be a game changer at WVU. Though procurement of this resource took longer than expected, I’m very excited to see it available.”

Those interested in gaining access to the High Performance Computing system can find information on registration on the HPC webpage. An overview session will be hosted on Friday, December 9 to demonstrate the HPC to research teams. Additional details on this session will be announced in the coming weeks.

WVCTSI Background

WVCTSI is funded by an IDeA Clinical and Translational grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (U54GM104942) to support the mission of building clinical and translational research infrastructure and capacity to impact health disparities in West Virginia.