Linux Cluster for Genetic Analysis

The challenge to dissect the genetic and environmental factors influencing susceptibility for common diseases is statistically complex and computationally intensive. The genetic epidemiologists and statistical geneticists at Boston University Medical Campus have a long history of success in localizing and identifying genes associated with risk for both simple Mendelian diseases as well as complex traits influenced by both multiple genes and environmental factors.  Implementation of some genetic analyses may take weeks or months on a single processor and High Performance Compute (HPC) clusters are a necessity for family and population based research in this genomic era. In May 2003, a Shared Instrumentation Grant was awarded from NIH’s NCRR (National Center for Research Resources) (Anita L. DeStefano, PI) for a Beowulf-class Linux cluster of 268 Intel processors, named LinGA-I, which enabled these researchers to continue this success and to implement the most recent advances in statistical genetics. In August 2007, a grant was awarded from the Boston University Department of Medicine (Anita L. DeStefano and Emelia Benjamin, Co-PIs) for the purchase of a new cluster, LinGA-II, with expanded computing capabilities, memory and storage.

Although the phenotypes and study populations differ widely among the funded projects which utilize this shared resource, there is substantial overlap in the computationally intensive analysis techniques that will be performed on this system. The placement of this computing resource among the investigators at Boston University will have a broad impact in the field of human genetics and further our understanding of the genetics of Huntington’s disease, Alzheimer’s disease, obesity, stroke, cognitive function, hypertension, cardiovascular traits, pulmonary disease, and cocaine and opioid dependency.

For more information, please visit the LinGa site.