iPlant Awarded $50M to Advance Cyberinfrastructure for the Life Sciences

iPlant's cyberinfrastructure enables scientists in many different fields to get a grip on massive amounts of data, such as the DNA sequences that make up genomes from microbes to cows.
iPlant's cyberinfrastructure enables scientists in many different fields to get a grip on massive amounts of data, such as the DNA sequences that make up genomes from microbes to cows.

The National Science Foundation has awarded $50 million to a multi-institution collaborative headquartered at the University of Arizona's BIO5 Institute to create a national cyberinfrastructure for the biological sciences.

The renewal grant for the iPlant Collaborative will allow scientists around the world to collaborate and use proven computational tools to analyze and manage massive biological data sets to efficiently address questions of scientific, national and global importance.

With partner sites at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at the University of Texas, Austin; Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) in New York; and the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW), iPlant is advancing the understanding of biology beyond which any individual research group is capable.

The original five-year, $50-million project, initiated in 2008, was the largest grant ever awarded by the NSF in the biological sciences, and three times larger than any NSF grant received by an institute in the state of Arizona at the time. Today, even in a precarious time for national funding agencies, the NSF renewed the iPlant award for another five years, increasing the total investment in the project to $100 million.

Eric Lyons, a senior computational biologist at the UA College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and leading iPlant scientist, likens the project to the infrastructure underlying a city.

"Roadways, plumbing, electricity – those are things we often take for granted. Whenever we build a new structure, be it a small house, a large apartment complex, or a business, we connect to that underlying infrastructure," Lyons said. "The needs of a small house are very different from those for a multi-resident apartment complex, but hooking up to the common infrastructure just works."'

Read the rest of this September 18, 2013 UA News article at the link below.

Date released: 
Sep 25 2013
Contact: 
Eric Lyons