Almaden Institute 2014: Sequence the City -
Metagenomics in the Era of Big Data - overview
May 6-7, 2014
The 2014 Almaden Institute, Sequence the City, explores how pervasive DNA sequencing across a city (or factory, farm, air travel system, etc.) could support a robust framework for safeguarding human and environmental health. The overarching aim of the Institute is to articulate the promise and the challenge of genomics in the era of big data.
Metagenomics is the study of mixtures of genetic material corresponding to communities of bacteria, fungi, viruses, and other living things, often co-existing in a microenvironment like on a countertop or in the human gastrointestinal tract. Results from metagenomics research are leading to a new appreciation for the critical role that microbes play in the health of people and the environment. Continued advances in DNA sequencing technology and laboratory sample preparation make it possible to track microbes as they live amongst us, from the typical species and strains, to the malevolent needles in the haystack.
Genomic analysis of food, water, waste, soil, crops, insects, and swabbed surfaces from natural and built environments could provide advanced warning of threats to public health. Biosurveillance and diagnostics applications using DNA sequencing technology will require new algorithms and computational methods. Built upon new I/T services, software applications that digitally identify microbes may replace labor-intensive and time-consuming biochemical assays, effectively moving detection from the wet bench to the computer.
The 2014 Institute will focus on a broad spectrum of science and computational topics including the human microbiome, bacterial and viral evolution, agriculture, food safety, and the microbial ecology of buildings (e.g., factories) and even entire cities. We will review some of the computational methods and analyses that are applied to genomic data today, and explore how new genomic data and services in the cloud could enable entirely new applications in the future.
About the Almaden Institute
The Almaden Institute, a semi-annual event at the IBM Almaden Research Center in San Jose, California, brings together eminent scientists from academia, government, industry, and the media to address fundamental challenges at the very edge of science and technology. The Institute is designed to facilitate and foster discussion, debate, interaction, and networking. The Institute is funded by IBM Research.