Compute Canada Advanced Computing Portal Enables Global Research Advances in Potential Disease Treatment


November 17, 2016, Ottawa – The International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC) announced a collection of 41 coordinated papers now published by scientists from across the globe. These papers represent the most recent work of IHEC member projects from Canada, the European Union, Germany, Japan, Singapore, and the United States. The comprehensive analysis of the epigenomes of healthy and abnormal cells will facilitate new ways to diagnose and treat various diseases, and ultimately lead to improved health outcomes.

Access to the data by collaborators and the greater scientific community is gained via the IHEC Data Portal, which takes advantage of Compute Canada resources to manage the large volume of data associated with the generation of reference epigenome maps.

“Compute Canada’s support for IHEC illustrates how access to advanced research computing resources enables high impact scientific research,” says Mark Dietrich, President and CEO of Compute Canada. “In Canada, a growing number of scientific disciplines are relying on advanced research computing to conduct data-intensive, computational research to solve problems they couldn’t solve before — and this research has significantly greater scientific impact than research that doesn’t benefit from ARC.”

These papers are taking global research in the field of epigenomics a major step forward. A set of 24 manuscripts has been released as a package in Cell and Cell Press-associated journals, and an additional 17 papers have been published in other high-impact journals.

“Having a state-of-the-art ARC infrastructure means Canada can attract and retain the best scientific minds and lead international initiatives. The way scientists use these resources is changing as technology evolves. A high-impact international partnership like IHEC is enabled by a layer of services sitting on top of the hardware infrastructure. These services increase the adoption of ARC technologies and enable unprecedented innovation across many sectors. ” says Dr. Dugan O’Neil, Compute Canada’s Chief Science Officer.

The IHEC Data Portal was developed to address the need to integrate and distribute datasets produced by various IHEC member consortia. The Portal implements a database and a graphical interface that currently hosts over 7,000 epigenomic datasets. It provides an overview of all the epigenome experiments produced by IHEC members, categorized by providers, tissue types and assay types. It also offers a dynamic grid that can be used to navigate through the datasets and provides links to either visualize the data in a genome browser or download it.

“This constitutes a major achievement for IHEC. The number of papers and variety of topics addressed by this creative team of scientists from around the globe not only reflects the dynamic nature of this consortium, but is also evidence of the great strength that comes from bringing together complementary expertise, with the potential for far greater impact than an equivalent number of individual projects”, said Dr. Eric Marcotte from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Chair of the IHEC Executive Committee in today’s announcement.

The IHEC Data Portal project is part of a larger project – the Genetics and Genomics Analysis Platform (GenAP). This project aims to make advanced analysis tools for life science researchers available on Compute Canada’s national computing platform.

For more information visit the full press release at 

About IHEC

The International Human Epigenome Consortium (IHEC) is a global consortium with the primary goal of providing free access to high-resolution reference human epigenome maps for normal and disease cell types to the research community. IHEC members support related projects to improve epigenomic technologies, investigate epigenetic regulation in disease processes, and explore broader gene-environment interactions in human health. Current full members of IHEC include: AMED-CREST/IHEC Team Japan; DLR-PT for BMBF German Epigenome Programme DEEP; CIHR Canadian Epigenetics Environment, and Health Research Consortium (CEEHRC); European Union FP7 BLUEPRINT Project; Hong Kong Epigenomics Project; KNIH Korea Epigenome Project; the NIH/NHGRI ENCODE Project; the NIH Roadmap Epigenomics Program; and the Singapore Epigenome Project.

The IHEC Data Portal can be used to view, search and download the data released by the different IHEC-associated projects.

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Image Courtesy of Cell Press

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