St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Microsoft and DNAnexus join forces to fuel scientific discovery

Partnership established to analyze and store half a petabyte of pediatric cancer genomics data, support data sharing and encourage greater collaboration among scientists worldwide

Memphis, Tennessee, February 28, 2018

Jinghui Zhang, PhD, chair of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Department of Computational Biology, talks with Assistant Faculty Member Xiang Chen, PhD.

Jinghui Zhang, PhD, chair of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital’s Department of Computational Biology, talks with Assistant Faculty Member Xiang Chen, PhD.

St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Microsoft and DNAnexus are collaborating to advance the global fight against childhood cancer by combining their collective expertise in research and treatment of pediatric disease, cloud computing and genomics data analysis and management to process, store and share significant amounts of pediatric genomics data.  

“Collaboration is vital to advancing scientific discovery,” said James R. Downing, M.D., St. Jude president and chief executive officer. “The sheer size of genomics data has made sharing across the scientific community cumbersome and challenging. We are excited to partner with Microsoft and DNAnexus to create the infrastructure and tools that will enhance our ability to share data and accelerate progress toward finding cures for pediatric cancer and other life-threatening diseases.”

Data sharing to advance scientific discovery is intrinsic to the ethos of St. Jude. In 2010, St. Jude and Washington University partnered to create the Pediatric Cancer Genome Project, which has sequenced the entire genomes of more than 800 individuals and is one of the world’s largest collections of pediatric cancer genomics data. The institution is committed to making data freely available to researchers, scientists and clinicians, but technology limitations – including storage and speed – can make providing access to its repositories of data difficult. Microsoft and DNAnexus are working with St. Jude researchers and computational biologists to create an ecosystem in the cloud for half a petabyte of genomics data from St. Jude.

St. Jude is a flagship partner for Microsoft Genomics service, which today was announced in general availability on Azure. Microsoft Genomics is for researchers, data scientists and clinicians interested in genomic analysis. The service is an implementation of the Broad Institute’s Best Practices pipeline and enables users to take advantage of the power of Azure to handle cloud-scale genomics workloads. In addition to providing the information technology infrastructure in a cloud platform, Microsoft hosts a research team that understands the complexities of genomics data and usage.

The Microsoft Genomics service is part of Microsoft’s Healthcare NExT initiative, which brings healthcare partners and Microsoft’s AI and cloud computing together to accelerate innovation in the healthcare industry, advance science through technology, and turn the lifesaving potential of next discoveries into reality.

“Working side-by-side with the healthcare industry’s most pioneering players to bring Microsoft’s research, cloud computing and AI expertise to help solve real-world problems is exactly what gets us out of bed each morning,” said Dr. Peter Lee, Corporate Vice President, AI + Research, Microsoft. “We have been so honored and excited to work with the teams at St. Jude and DNAnexus in the fight against childhood cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. We’re committed to empowering them with the cloud and AI tools to achieve more.”

DNAnexus will provide an open, flexible cloud platform that supports Microsoft Genomics service as well as other genomics tools to provide researchers access to tools and diverse datasets in a collaborative ecosystem.

“We are proud to serve as the technology platform bringing together the power of St. Jude genomics data and Microsoft,” said Richard Daly, chief executive officer of DNAnexus. “St. Jude is building exciting new capabilities for genomic analysis, data sharing and tool development, which will be critical to supporting research. We look forward to continuing our work with St. Jude and Microsoft to accelerate discovery in pediatric cancer and rare disease.”  

More information on the platform will be available soon.

“This partnership represents a foundation for continued collaboration,” said Keith Perry, senior vice president and chief information officer at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. “We will keep building upon this foundation and use the appropriate technology to support the St. Jude mission of advancing cures for pediatric life-threatening diseases.”

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital

St. Jude Children's Research Hospital is leading the way the world understands, treats and cures childhood cancer and other life-threatening diseases. It is the only National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center devoted solely to children. St. Jude is ranked the No. 1 pediatric cancer hospital by U.S. News & World Report. Treatments developed at St. Jude have helped push the overall childhood cancer survival rate from 20 percent to 80 percent since the hospital opened more than 50 years ago. St. Jude freely shares the breakthroughs it makes, and every child saved at St. Jude means doctors and scientists worldwide can use that knowledge to save thousands more children. Families never receive a bill from St. Jude for treatment, travel, housing and food — because all a family should worry about is helping their child live. To learn more, visit stjude.org or follow St. Jude on social media at @stjuderesearch.

DNAnexus

DNAnexus, the global leader in biomedical informatics and data management, has created the global network for integrating genomics and other biomedical data. With operations in North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific (including China), South America, and Africa, the DNAnexus Platform provides a secure, scalable, and collaborative infrastructure that is helping thousands of researchers across a spectrum of industries – biopharmaceutical, bioagricultural, sequencing services, clinical diagnostics, government, and research consortia – accelerate their genomics programs globally. For more information, please visit www.dnanexus.com or follow the company @DNAnexus.