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Breaking down barriers to societal challenges

We are seeing fundamental changes in the way we do research. Three major developments are big data, evolving scientific models and new computing architectures. EUBrazil Cloud Connect e-infrastructure brings these elements together to accelerate scientific discovery and drive innovation. In a global context, e-infrastructure facilitates collaborative research on common challenges. Addressing these challenges can have a huge impact on society.

Boosting big data access: EUBrazil Cloud Connect Date Source Census

Big data is a new trend that is shaping the evolution of future e-infrastructure. As more data is produced, consumed and stored, it results in datasets that are too large, complex or dynamic for traditional methods. To facilitate researchers, EUBrazil Cloud Connect has created a Date Source Census that maps and categorises the variety of data sources key to supporting new approaches to scientific investigation and that will be retrieved by EUBrazil Cloud Connect applications. The census tells researchers about the format, availability, volumes and usage policy of the data. These large data sets span sequences from existing leishmania and sand fly collections from WHO centres (ISCIII-WHO-CCL collection), public genetic & biotechnology databanks (PubMed and GenBank); clinical data from hospitals and biomedical research centres in Europe and Brazil; meteorological data from land surface monitoring stations, satellite images, and other biodiversity data sources provided by the Brazilian National Institute of Meteorology (INMET), the Brazilian National Water Agency (ANA) and other major international agencies such as the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

All these data represent the ground layer of EUBrazil Cloud Connect architecture. But what for?

How to mitigate negative effects of climate change is one of the focus areas of EUBrazil Cloud Connect. The project is trying to understand how biodiversity and its ecosystems buffer climate change and thus reduce negative effects of climate change. Improving our understanding of climate change entails analysing different types of data spanning meteorological data from land surface monitoring stations, satellite images and remote-sensing (such as LiDAR data). EUBrazil Cloud Connect will build a scientific gateway that integrates tools to understand how biodiversity (and its ecosystems) is buffering climate change. A key benefit of the e-infrastructure is access to large-scale data. This means researchers are no longer limited to data from a single experimental site. The idea is to show people working in this field what they can do to mitigate negative effects, for example, by preferential seeding of target plant species. An important impact of EUBrazil Cloud Connect will be to pave the way for this novel approach”, explains Wouter Los, University of Amsterdam and coordinator of LifeWatch biodiversity research infrastructure.
Another focus area of EUBrazil Cloud Connect is Leishmaniasis, one of the world’s most neglected diseases that have a devastating effect on the poorest of the poor. Leishmaniasis, a neglected tropical disease, has strong but complex links with poverty. “More effective control of neglected tropical diseases is vital to achieving poverty reduction and spurring social-economic development without waiting for countries to fully develop and living conditions to improve over a potentially long period of time”, as Israel Cruz from the Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCI III), WHO Collaborating Centre for Leishmaniasis in Spain, states. EUBrazil Cloud Connect is offering this community a Leishmaniasis Virtual Lab, focused on molecular surveillance of Leishmania and their vectors, with a number of online collaborative and research tools for advancing the current knowledge about leishmaniasis.

Enabling Complex, multi-scale cardiovascular modelling

Another important trend is modelling, which facilitates the understanding of large and complex systems and requires a strong computational basis. EUBrazil Cloud Connect takes on the challenge of advancing understanding of cardiovascular diseases, which have a huge impact especially on people with low- and medium incomes. The collaborative work focuses on simulating a heartbeat, which is both complex and multi-scale. To extend the range of cardiovascular scenarios it is currently possible to analyse, EUBrazil Cloud Connect will integrate specific clinical data into a cloud environment. “We target millions of patients of cardiovascular diseases world-wide. Each patient produces a large dataset that describes the disease and its evolution along time, which includes physiological parameters and medical images. Ultimately, these parameters will be used to feed our model, creating a personalised simulation scenario”, Mariano Vázquez, BSC, Spain.

Pushing the envelope with new computing architectures

Advancements in computing architectures are fundamental for tackling harder and more complex problems because the efficiently increase remote access to an increasingly rich set of computing resources. Most importantly, these advances hold the key to innovation and the creation of new markets. EUBrazil Cloud Connect builds an e-infrastructure that combines the best of supercomputing, private cloud and cloud opportunistic resources through a set of components and tools. The recently completed design of the EUBrazil Cloud Connect architecture underpins its virtual infrastructure for advanced scientific investigation.
About the architecture. The path toward the design of the EUBrazil Cloud Connect architecture entailed different aspects. Existing standards have been used to integrate supercomputing and cloud resources and maximise interoperability across provisioning systems, existing infrastructures and resource management mechanism. Another step was to provide tools for end-user access to execution environments, where the EUBrazil Cloud Connect applications are deployed. Finally, the project’s architects/developers have also created protocols for importing and integrating data sources necessary for the three applications (more here)
EUBrazil Cloud Connect (2014-2016)
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