CLIMB-NG: The Next-Generation Cloud Infrastructure for Microbial Bioinformatics

  • Sheppard, Samuel (PI)

Project: Research council

Project Details


High-throughput sequencing has transformed microbiology, delivering an explosion in genomic and metagenomic big data. However, many microbiologists remain unable to exploit large genomics datasets to address key questions in microbiology, because they lack access to the relevant computational resources, bioinformatics tools or expertise in data analysis. To address this problem, six years ago we launched CLIMB, a pioneering British cloud-computing infrastructure project funded by the MRC that has supported >900 users. As CLIMB comes to an end, we propose a unique new partnership--CLIMB-BIG-DATA (Cloud Infrastructure for Big-Data Microbial Bioinformatics)- to meet the bioinformatic needs of the UK microbiology community as we head into the 2020s. This new CLIMB-BIG-DATA partnership will occupy a distinctive position in the UK, underpinning research in the academic sector alongside the front-line work of government agencies and the health service, while also supporting research that maps on to a wide variety of national/UKRI and international strategic priorities and Official Development Assistance objectives. In response to community needs (as evidenced by >160 signatories), the proposed partnership will maintain the existing CLIMB infrastructure to support hundreds of research projects including high-profile efforts to track the spread of Ebola or Zika virus. However, we also promise to deliver a step-change in the scale and scope of what we can offer to users. We will adopt a matrix model, in which a range of activities will be mapped on to strategically important themes championed by our investigators, including Antimicrobial Resistance; Emerging Infectious Disease and Global Health; Microbial Genomics for Public Health; Microbial communities and metagenomics; Pathogen Biology and Functional Genomics; Sequencing Technologies. Activities aimed at community engagement will include bioinformatics workshops, hackathons and symposia. Activities focused on tools and integration will include enhanced support for sharing software and data, workflow integration and migration between clouds; enhanced support and security for clinical applications; plus integration with large datasets at external facilities, such as the European Nucleotide Archive. Activities focused on infrastructure include: provision of graphics processing units and enhanced storage; maintenance of our original cloud-computing infrastructure to support microbial bioinformatics; plus incorporation of cloud infrastructures from the MRC unit in the Gambia and from the Quadram Institute. The CLIMB-BIG-DATA partnership will run as a UKRI-supported project for five years, with the expectation that the project will become self-financing through robust pathways to sustainability and expansion. The partnership will draw upon a diverse team of partners from multiple research organisations and collaborators from government agencies, and it will be run from the Quadram Institute in Norwich, which as a strategically funded UKRI research institute will provide a first-class stable and resilient environment for the project's future.
Effective start/end date1/04/2031/08/22


  • MRC


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