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Advanced Research Computing delivers new Sêr Cymru Hawk extension

22 March 2022

DNA

ARCCA recently completed the installation and deployment of a new Sêr Cymru extension to Hawk dedicated to supporting medical research with a focus on cancer and rare disease. The platform design ensures suitably enhanced security provision whilst benefitting from the extension of key components of the existing Hawk service.

This new infrastructure will support a range of activities reflecting a consortium of cancer and rare disease researchers, ranging from standard established bioinformatics workflows through to experimental data science analysis. Working with the NHS, these consortium partners share the same goal of improving cancer & genetic disease research through better data integration. These partners and their specialities include:

The work of Sêr Cymru is part of wider efforts by the cancer research community to develop better, more trustworthy, research environments for cancer research in Wales.  Sêr Cymru aligns with work shortly to start with the SAIL Databank to develop a prototype Trusted Research Environment (TRE) for cancer as well as equivalent activities with the NHS & National Data Resource.  In this way, Sêr Cymru represents a local safe, secure, and trustworthy research environment that will complement and inform future cancer TRE capability in Wales.

In collaboration with Supercomputing Wales, ARCCA led the design, implementation and acceptance testing of the Sêr Cymru system ensuring suitability with the storage and computational requirements of the research consortium partners.

Featuring a 160-core compute cluster with a dedicated access node, the system is underpinned by over 600 TBytes of secure storage replicated across two sites for resilience, all of which resides within a secure dedicated network. This new infrastructure will provide key benefits to research, specifically through data integration, data security, with opportunities to exploit new investment while strengthening research links with the NHS.

Infrastructure to support cancer and genetic disease research for practical healthcare benefit in Wales will also benefit from Hawk’s pluggable infrastructure design. The latter provides common access to complimentary core resource such as accelerator technologies (GPUs) for machine learning, as well as ARCCA’s technical expertise to effectively exploit these resources.

This secure, dedicated extension is already being used by the consortium to support Cardiff University’s bid to renew its Experimental Cancer Medicine Centre (ECMC) status for a further five years as well as help establish improved precision oncology training through a current EPSRC Interdisciplinary Doctoral Training Hub (IDTH) bid.

From next year, Sêr Cymru will provide high performance computing and secure storage as part of the University’s involvement in Genomic Partnership Wales’ Cardiff Edge development.  This extends ARCCA’s existing partnership with Genomics Partnership Wales and the NHS through its work with the All Wales Medical Genomics Service, acting as service provider for the NHS computational facility, “Wren”.

Finally, Sêr Cymru will provide opportunities for the consortium to help develop Trusted Research Environment capacities for cancer research in Wales in line with the soon-to-be published Cancer Research Strategy for Wales (CReSt) which will be delivered by consortium partner, the Wales Cancer Research Centre.

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