Rapid, collaborative and transparent analysis of novel coronavirus on Galaxy Australia


Researchers from universities in Germany, Belgium, Australia and the USA, have used publicly available novel coronavirus (COVID-19) genome data and published their analyses using Galaxy, an open source research platform.

The joint paper, written by the international Galaxy team, demonstrates how the COVID-19 genome data can be shared, analysed and reproduced in an efficient and transparent way. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the researchers showed how Galaxy could facilitate the exchange of data and reproducible workflows between authorities, institutes and laboratories dealing with the virus.

The international Galaxy platform, through the provision of highly accessible, globally shared data and analytics platforms, has the potential to transform the way biomedical research is performed. By offering access to data and an open and reproducible analytics environment, the Galaxy platform ensures that progress is no longer limited by access to samples and data.

The Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC) and Bioplatforms Australia have partnered with Australian BioCommons to ensure that Galaxy Australia maintains tools, workflows and reference datasets for the Australian research community.

The ARDC investments have seen the Genomics Virtual Laboratory and Galaxy Australia become essential services for training and analysis in data-intensive biomedical research. The total investment in grants and compute allocations to all Genomics Virtual Laboratory and Galaxy related projects since 2012 was approximately $6.43M, of which $5.18M was in project grants and an estimated $1.25M in underpinning compute and data storage resourcing. This support was augmented by national coinvestment of $6.69M ($4.23M project co-investment plus (estimated) $2.46M compute provisioning) from the University of Melbourne, Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation, Research Computing Centre (UQ), Bioplatforms Australia and many other institutional partners.

Through coinvestment from the ARDC’s Platforms Programs over the next three years, work is underway to broaden Galaxy Australia’s capabilities by increasing the communities that can use the platform and the types of analyses the platform can perform.

The most recent "BioCommons BYOD [Bring Your Own Data] Expansion Project" Platforms grant of $2.21M will bolster the contributions of Australian BioCommons, University of Melbourne, Bioplatforms Australia, Australia’s Academic and Research Network, Australian Access Federation, National Computational Infrastructure, Pawsey Supercomputing Center, Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation, Melbourne Bioinformatics, and Sydney Informatics Hub.

Associate Professor Andrew Lonie, Director of Australian BioCommons, says digital technologies are proving transformational for researchers in the life sciences domain.

“The enhanced Galaxy Australia platform will position Australia at the forefront of bioinformatics infrastructure and substantially improve Australian researcher’s access to bioinformatics,” Associate Professor Andrew Lonie said.

ARDC’s Director of Platforms and Engagement, Dr Andrew Treloar says the breadth of ARDC investment in research platforms ensures Australia's world class research system continues to improve productivity, create jobs, lift economic growth and support a healthy environment.

“It’s fantastic to be investing in research-orientated platforms and services that integrate and provide access to a range of resources to researchers and industry.

“This is a great opportunity to collaborate with our partners and universities at the cutting-edge of research to provide Australian researchers with competitive advantage through data,” Dr Andrew Treloar said.

During an outbreak like the COVID-19, the development and implementation of effective infection control and prevention measures relies on the global research community’s ability to share data in a timely manner and perform fast and reproducible analyses. Platforms like Galaxy Australia can enable and accelerate this process.

Read the summary about Galaxy Australia’s role in the recent COVID-19 study at the Australian BioCommons website and visit the ARDC website to find out how the ARDC is supporting an expansion of the Galaxy Australia project.

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