Microsoft Research Makes Microsoft Biology Foundation and MODISAzure-Based Environmental Service Available to Scientists and Res

Two new technologies are showcased at the eScience Workshop to fuel advancement of data-driven research in healthcare and environmental fields.

With more than 200 researchers in attendance at the seventh annual eScience Workshop, Microsoft Research showcases two technologies that facilitate data-driven research: the Microsoft Biology Foundation (MBF) and a MODISAzure-based environmental service.

Programmers and developers in bioscience now have access to the first version of MBF, part of the Microsoft Biology Initiative. With this platform, Microsoft Research is bringing new technology and tools to the area of bioinformatics and biology, empowering scientists with the resources needed to advance their research. This programming-language-neutral bioinformatics toolkit built as an extension to the Microsoft .NET Framework serves as a library of commonly used bioinformatics functions. MBF implements a range of parsers for common bioinformatics file formats; a range of algorithms for manipulating DNA, RNA and protein sequences; and a set of connectors to biological Web services such as National Center for Biotechnology Information BLAST.

“Biologists face a number of issues today, such as detecting correlations between human genome sequencing or identifying the likelihood for a patient to develop a certain disease,” said Tony Hey, corporate vice president of Microsoft External Research. “The MBF aims to provide healthcare research facilities with the tools needed to help scientists advance their research and ensure data accuracy.”

Several universities and companies are already using MBF as a foundation for a wide range of experimental tools that could enable scientists and clinicians with the technologies needed to make critical advancements in healthcare.

The Informatics Group at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development leveraged MBF to extend its Advanced Biological & Chemical Discovery informatics platform to seamlessly integrate small and large molecule discovery data.

"The bioinformatics features and functionality within the MBF equipped us with pre-existing functions so we didn’t have to re-invent the wheel,” said Jeremy Kolpak, senior analyst at Johnson & Johnson Pharmaceutical Research and Development. “Ultimately, it saved us a tremendous amount of time, allowing us to focus on the development of higher-level analysis and visualization capabilities, and delivering them faster to our scientists, thus improving their ability to make data-driven discoveries and critical diagnoses.”

Another service available for researchers leverages MODISAzure and was created by Dennis Baldocchi, biometeorologist at U.C. Berkeley, Youngryel Ryu, biometeorologist at Harvard University, and Catharine van Ingen, Microsoft eScience researcher. This MODISAzure-based environmental service combines state-of-art biophysical modeling with a rich cloud-based dataset of satellite imagery and ground-based sensor data to support global-scale carbon-climate science synthesis analysis.

Using this research, scientists from different disciplines can share data and algorithms to better understand and visualize how ecosystems behave as climate change occurs. This service is built on MODISAzure, an image-processing pipeline on the Microsoft Windows Azure cloud computing platform.

“To study Earth science we need to have systems that are everywhere, all of the time, and today with our MODISAzure-based environmental service, we have taken a giant step toward that goal,” Baldocchi said.

Available under an open source license, the MBF is freely downloadable at http://research.microsoft.com/bio.

Microsoft organizes the eScience Workshop. This year, the event is presented in partnership with the Berkeley Water Center, the Colleges of Engineering and Natural Resources at UC Berkeley, and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. More information about the event, the Microsoft Biology Foundation, the MODISAzure environmental service or Phil Bourne — this year’s recipient of the third-annual Jim Gray eScience Award — can be found at http://research.microsoft.com/en-US/events/escience2010/default.aspx.

 

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