What Now: Opportunities and Challenges

Biomedical Research Institutions Information Technology Exchange

Salk Institute for Biological Studies, La Jolla, CA

11–13 Dec 2013

Meeting Description:

The topic for this meeting was virtually forced upon us by current events. Almost every issue of the major research journals carries papers showing that computationally intensive work (sequencing, genomics, and metagenomics) is leading to great new advances in basic biology and in clinical research. The power of computational equipment continues to rise, while prices fall.

This year the Nobel Prize in chemistry was awarded to three scientists for "the development of multiscale (computational) models for complex chemical systems." The official Nobel press release noted, "Today the computer is just as important a tool for chemists as the test tube. Simulations are so realistic that they predict the outcome of traditional experiments."

The critical role of computation in science — chemistry or biology — has never been more clear.

But, with all of these opportunities come the challenges. The NIH is about to release new security and sharing rules for genomic data that are likely to require significant new effort, both technical and managerial, to meet. Of course, no new funding has been allocated to cover this new burden. Instead, the federal government has, as of this writing, just re-opened for business, but with a budget authorization only good until 15 Jan.

The purpose of BRIITE meetings is to bring together IT professionals, who support IT in a biomedical research setting, so that they can discuss common issues, openly and candidly, and then work together to explore both opportunities and solutions to challenges.

The current set of opportunities and challenges may be unprecedented. In a worst-case scenario, we could be facing several years of actual declines in federal research funding, while the demand for new capacity in research IT grows rapidly. None of us are clairvoyant, yet we all need to decide What Now?

Do we try for strategic growth, to take advantage of the research opportunities, or do we shift into cost containment, to reduce the risks of funding uncertainty.

How is your institution dealing with the current situation? Come to BRIITE and learn what your peers are doing to deal with the intense new world of unprecedented opportunities combined with huge challenges and risks.

Speakers and Presentations:

BRIITE 2013 Annual Meeting

Final Agenda as distributed to attendees

What Now: Great Opportunities / Great(er) Challenges

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Robert J. Robbins


Welcome to BRIITE

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Watch on YouTube BRIITE Channel:

Robert J. Robbins


Big Data: Yet Another Buzzword, or Actual Big Deal?

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Warren Kibbe

Director of the Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology (CBIIT) at the National Cancer Institute, National Institutes of Health

NCI Informatics Priorities for 2014

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Matt Trunnell

Chief Information Officer, Broad Institute, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Taking Biomedical Computing to the Next Scale: The Global Alliance and Genome Bridge

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John Speakman

Senior Director, Research Information Technology, New York University Langone Medical Center, New York, New York

Real Disaster Recovery: Getting Hit by Hurricane Sandy (and finding a silver lining)

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BRIITE Website:

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Open Meeting:

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Robert J. Robbins, PhD

Seattle, Washington


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