Biology has become a large-scale data-driven science that requires extensive computational resources. The University of Illinois performs world-leading research in high-performance scientific computing and in genomic and environmental biology. Working at the interface between the two disciplines, and poised at the technological cutting edge, HPCBio was created to address the need for a structure that could supply infrastructure, user support and training, and R&D capability in computational genomics to the Illinois research community. HPCBio provides a single, straightforward point of access, open to researchers from all campus units, helping them to find solutions to their biomedical data management and analysis problems.
HPCBio is a collaborative effort between multiple partners in the University community. It is administratively attached to the Roy J. Carver Biotechnology Center, and incorporates the Center’s Bioinformatics Unit. It is strongly anchored in the genomics research agenda of the Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology (IGB), and in particular in its Genomic Technology program area. It builds on the research expertise of IGB faculty and affiliates. The National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA) provides high-level technical expertise in high-performance computing. The Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Research financially supports HPCBio and provides institutional oversight.
The core missions of HPCBio are two-fold:
- To provide a first class infrastructure for bioinformatics, combining hardware, software, databases, training, consulting and services;
- To perform applied research in biological computing, with a view to develop and maintain innovative, robust and validated software that leverages both the latest data generation technologies and advances in computer architectures.
HPCBio is a single-stop facility for all campus researchers requiring computational resources and expertise for biomedical research. Its activities include the following:
- Design, develop and maintain a high-performance computing environment tailored to the needs of life science research
- Develop and maintain up-to-date software and databases including Web-based cyberenvironments to serve the diverse needs of the life sciences research community
- Organize training in the optimal use of bioinformatics software and methods, from both a conceptual and a practical standpoint
- Provide consulting, advice and personalized services to researchers across campus, enabling them to efficiently manage and analyze high-throughput datasets
- Perform applied research and development activities in the field of high-performance computing applied to biological and medical problems
- Provide computational infrastructure and support to the Carver Biotechnology Center