Tatsat Chronicle Magazine

Lenovo And CSIR-IGIB Partner To Accelerate Cancer Research Through Genetic Analysis

High-performance computing is essential for handling high workloads that are involved in genome research
July 6, 2022
Photo: Flickr

Lenovo, the global technology leader, is collaborating with the CSIR Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology (CSIR-IGIB), the most prestigious genome sequencing research institute in India, in a unique partnership to advance cancer research by digging deeper into the genetic roots of disease. A vital part of the institute’s work revolves around human genetics research, which plays a critical role in identifying genetic disorders, characterising the mutations that drive cancer progression, and tracking disease outbreaks.

 The partnership uses Lenovo’s high-performance Genomics Optimisation and Scalability Tool (GOAST) architecture, featuring second-generation Intel Xeon Scalable processors, to power through ultra-intensive genomic sequencing workloads and help researchers find insights faster. Lenovo’s GOAST is a high-performance computing (HPC) architecture engineered specifically for demanding genomics workloads that is a significant contributor to this initiative.

Dr Anurag Agrawal, former Director, CSIR-IGIB said, “Computing speed and scale are both critical to genetic sequencing. Our goal is to help researchers analyse more samples faster, and we needed high-performing technology to achieve this. The higher computing throughput and capacity delivered by Lenovo GOAST is helping accelerate the pace of research and increase our output, thereby helping us drive scientific progress that makes a real impact on people’s health and lives. Lenovo has truly optimised both hardware and software for genomics analysis, and it pays dividends in terms of performance and efficiency.”

Working closely with Lenovo’s high-performance computing services, CSIR-IGIB deployed a 28-node system—the largest GOAST installation in India to date. By leveraging an optimised architecture and efficient open-source software, GOAST offers GPU-level performance at CPU-level costs, making it an attractive proposition for a public sector body such as CSIR-IGIB.

CSIR-IGIB has seen a significant performance impact from the Lenovo GOAST system for both whole genome sequencing (WGS) and whole exome sequencing (WES) workflows. On latency runs—where all resources of one node are assigned to executing a single job—the institute can complete a typical WGS and WES workflow 6.5 times faster.

Accelerated execution speeds enable researchers to process more samples and answer more complex questions in less time— from 60.5 hours to 9 hours. By sustaining a more rapid pace of research, CSIR-IGIB will be able to push vital scientific work further, driving the breakthroughs needed to improve their understanding of diseases like cancer and find better treatments that improve patient outcomes and even save lives.


“It is through institutions like IGIB that decisive advances in healthcare are being achieved— from treatments and vaccines for acute diseases, to strategies for managing and overcoming chronic conditions. We are glad to partner and provide crucial technical support to IGIB’s new Centre of Excellence. It is likely to become the largest site for GOAST in Asia Pacific,” said Sinisa Nikolic, Director, HPC-AI, Infrastructure Solutions Group, Lenovo Asia Pacific.

This Lenovo architecture will support an array of research initiatives, including ones focused on exploring the potential genetic roots of cancer. For example, researchers can compare cancer genomes against a standard reference genome to identify potential germline mutations (passed directly from a parent to a child) that can trigger or advance cancer development in humans. This would also enable improving our understanding of the genetic changes that can contribute to cancer; such analysis can also offer valuable insights into how an individual’s cancer might progress and its likely response to treatment.