Ulster University collaborates with tech firms to analyse links between Covid-19 and patients

  • Photo: Ulster University Professor of Genomics, Tony Bjourson

    Ulster University, Seagate and Dell Technologies Ireland have combined research and data storage capabilities in a collaboration which will allow advanced analyses of Covid-19 patient data.

    The Ulster University research team will examine large volumes of medical datasets to establish if there are links between Covid-19, genetic make-up and the severity of the disease.

    The findings will also inform decisions around drug treatments for those with severe symptoms and possibly long covid, as well as providing an insight into how genes may influence vaccination efficiency.

    Data storage company, Seagate, and multinational IT company Dell Technologies have delivered the infrastructure required to store patient information for this major research project at the Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified Medicine based at C-TRIC on the Altnagelvin hospital campus.

    Seagate donated 100 x 12TB Hard drives and Dell Technologies donated critical equipment and expertise to help deliver a complete solution. 

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    The collaborative partnership is part of the Data4Good initiative aimed at data usage for the benefit of humanity. It created a petabyte of data which is the equivalent of over 1000 large home computers working together or the capability for an individual to store 4,000 digital photographs every day for their lifetime.  

    Professor of Genomics, Tony Bjourson, Director of the Northern Ireland Centre for Stratified Medicine at C-TRIC at Altnagelvin, and the Project Lead on the UU THRIVE City Deal project said: "We recently completed the recruitment of the 500 Covid-19 patients for whole genome sequencing. It means reading the sequencing of the 3.2bn chemical letters that make up each of our genomes.  This generates huge amounts of raw data that has to be stored to allow very advanced computational genomic analyses.

    "This collaboration, which came about when Seagate and Dell Technologies responded to our call for assistance, offers a good example of how research transforms lives and how technology acts as a catalyst for innovation," he continued.

    "We will pursue more of these kind of collaborations through the Derry and Strabane City Deal in the years ahead through data analytics via CARL and health innovation via THRIVE and of course industry partnerships such as this one will be key. For now, as our work during Covid-19 continues, we are so grateful to partners such as Seagate and Dell Technologies for coming together in this way.”

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