MediGRID

eScience services for biomedical sciences

 

In a joint research project, MediGRID has joined ranks with renowned research facilities in the fields of medicine, bioinformatics and health sciences, to develop a comprehensive grid infrastructure and an e-science service for (bio) medical sciences. The involvement of numerous associated partners from industry, supply and research facilities ensures the project is based on broad common interests.
MediGRID shows, by means of three typical fields of application, how and in which cases grid technology in biomedical research can be applied profitably. These areas are listed below:

  • Image processing
  • Biomedical informatics
  • Clinical research

In the context of image processing, three different applications were successfully implemented in the MediGRID infrastructure. For this purpose, there is a 3D visualisation and analysis service for ultrasounds on prostate biopsies, software for computational fluid dynamics simulation in vasodilation as a field of application of virtual vascular surgery and an application for analysis of functional brain scan data.

The successfully implemented applications in the field of biomedical research comprise applications for analysing disease-oriented genomic data, the well-known sequence analysis tools AGUSTUS and DIALIGN, and the implementation of protein-interaction analysis applications and applications for sequence correlation.

The field of applied clinical research demonstrated, as an example, the implementation of an application scenario, in this case ‘sleep research.’ This involved the creation of a pseudonymisation concept for the use of data from clinical research as well as patient care in the grid. The portlet developed can be used for the automated analysis of nightly medical (polysomnographical) recordings of sleep and to validate and further develop new analysis procedures for bio signals in sleep medicine.

All example applications are accessible on the MediGRID user portal (https://portal.medigrid.de). The MediGRID portal offers simple and uncomplicated access to the applications and services of the grid infrastructure for the fields of medicine and life sciences within the German eScience initiative, D-Grid. With help from this portal, the effectiveness of the grid can be accessed at any time by all authorised users, regardless of their location and without the need to install special software.

A modular task distribution was selected for the organisation of the project in MediGRID,. In four methodical project modules - middleware, ontology tools, resource fusion and eScience - the consortium partners have developed the fundamental grid infrastructure step by step. The applications from the three application-oriented project modules are found in this infrastructure – biomedical informatics, image processing, clinical research.

A further key point for the project is to investigate the scientific framework and possible sustainable business models for Healthgrids and networking projects within an international framework. MediGRID is a TMF registered association member of the leading European Association for Grid Computing in the fields of medicine, Healthgrid.org. In addition, there was an intensive exchange with the American Cancer Research Center’s grid infrastructure project caBIG. With the establishment of the Forum Grid in the TMF, an exchange platform was also formed for all relevant stakeholders from the biomedical field.

The project started in 2005 and officially ended in February 2009. All project results, including the MediGRID basic infrastructure have been additionally developed in several subsequent projects. This includes the presentation of sustainability strategies and developing services in Services@MediGRID, and the development of concrete, specific target-group applications in MedInfoGrid and PneumoGrid. MediGRID also lives on in the overarching community project WissGrid, which addresses the general aspects of a scientific grid infrastructure in Germany.