UW-IT News

UW Tacoma’s BioDepot makes analyzing biomedical data a snap


Video by Sam Han | Text by Ignacio Lobos | UW-IT Communications & Engagement

When Ka Yee Yeung, professor at the School of Engineering and Technology at UW Tacoma, was looking for computing power to ignite her lab work, she turned to UW-IT and the e-Science Institute for help.

“Modern day biology is very much a data-rich science, and a lot of modern day technologies like sequencing technology, like microscopes and all of that, generate really large datasets,” she said.

So finding a way to work with so much data is essential to advancing the work of biomedical researchers. Her team partnered with UW-IT and e-Science Institute computing experts to find suitable cloud computing solutions and even cloud credits that make it less expensive for her graduate students to conduct their cloud computing work.

The collaboration has allowed Yeung and her lab to develop computationally optimized methods and software tools to make it easier for biologists and clinicians to analyze biomedical data.

In the past year, they have been working to develop a platform called the BioDepot Workflow Builder. The open source platform, funded by the National Institutes of Health, allows researchers to build bioinformatics workflows by combining interchangeable and encapsulated widgets. That process allows researchers to more easily implement and test new algorithms and observe how output differ.

“Our goal is to make it easier for our biologists and clinicians to interactively and reproducibly run their analytical workflows,” she said.

Reproducible analysis of data is a key part of the research process, particularly when big datasets are involved.

“A lot of the dataset we work with are what we call sequencing data, which looks at genetic variations across different people or patient samples. Reproducible analysis of data is very essential,” Yeung said.

With BioDepot, her team is working to address these issues, making research data reproducible — and making it easier for researchers to interact with the data without training in programing.

For more information and to hear Yeung talk about her work, watch this UW-IT video.

Data Destruction Day is a hit!

UW-IT’s Data Destruction Date on Oct. 18 turned out to be quite a success, with hundreds of hard drives successfully taken apart, as well as the shredding of sensitive paper. The event, sponsored by our Office of Information Security, is one of several on the agenda during October to promote National cybersecurity Awareness Month. There’s still plenty of activities left, so make sure to check the calendar and this video about shredding day.


Get cyber smart with this presentation

Join us this Friday, Oct. 20, for an online presentation for UW staff, faculty and researchers. The 1-2 p.m. session will cover multiple topics about UW policies and data classifications, as well as protecting login credentials, recognizing and reporting phishing and scams, securing devices and connections, managing passwords, tips for travel and working from home, and permissions for collaborative tools. Register now.

Join Cybersecurity Awareness Month events

Pencil in the kick-off for National Cybersecurity Awareness Month (NCSAM), Tuesday, October 10, 12:30-2:30 in Odegaard 220.

The kick-off will include information stations focused on six key themes and you’ll learn about events, training, and awareness contests planned throughout the month of October. And you can also spin the wheel for OIS-branded prizes and enjoy coffee and refreshments.

Check out all the activities now, and what you can do to stay safe in the cyberworld!