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MSU to Share in $5M ‘Big Data’ Grant

Michigan State University is teaming up with the University of Michigan, Wayne State University, Indiana University and Van Andel Research Institute to implement a high-speed infrastructure that will allow scientists to access and share their research across the region with unprecedented ease.

This new Multi-Institutional Open Storage Research InfraStructure (MI-OSiRIS) initiative was launched through a $5 million grant from the National Science Foundation and will enable researchers to collaborate their efforts in making new discoveries.

MI-OSiRIS will break new ground in data storage and networking by utilizing advanced data storage software and hardware to open up new frequencies on the existing high-speed network. The project will test the effectiveness of so-called software defined storage coupled with advanced networking. This will allow relatively inexpensive, off-the-shelf hard drives to be programmed with intelligent software. This can automatically manage data in ways that make it easier to copy, analyze, change, search and share.

“With the ever-increasing demands on rapid data access faced by numerous research fields and with that data not always being co-local to the research team, projects like MI-OSiRIS, which improves the transfer rates between disparate sites, will be transformative in enabling collaborative projects,” said Kennie Merz, director of MSU’s Institute for Cyber-Enabled Research, who will help coordinate MSU’s more than $493,000 portion of the grant.

Direct access to data between sister institutions will improve efficiency, said Patrick Gossman, deputy chief information officer for research at Wayne State University.

“This will eliminate hours and even days lost copying massive files from one place to another,” he said. “The end result will be improved research productivity in health, aging, the environment and other areas important to us all.”

Many scientific fields can produce fire hoses of data, but we haven’t kept pace with the infrastructure to make analyzing it trivial or even transparent, said Shawn McKee, a research scientist in physics in the University of Michigan College of Literature, Science and the Arts.

“Improved connectivity will allow bioinformaticians and biostatisticians to analyze and deliver results more efficiently and effectively, ultimately allowing researchers to develop and test more hypotheses at the bench,” said Mary Winn, VARI’s Bioinformatics and Biostatistics Core Manager. “The impacts on human disease brought about by enhanced data-sharing and improved collaborative efforts could be transformative.”

MI-OSiRIS fits nicely with the expansion in the computational sciences at MSU represented by iCER and the recent announcement of the formation of the Computational, Mathematics, Science and Engineering (CMSE) department.

“Enhanced networking and data storage will significantly enhance the ability of CMSE researchers to simultaneously perform and collaborate on community-centric data intensive projects,” said Brian O’Shea, CMSE graduate director.

Given MSU’s substantial investment in the computational sciences, MI-OSiRIS will enable novel, data-driven science efforts between MSU and its partner institutions, he added.

– Layne Cameron , Kelly Osborn via MSU Today

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