The Garvan Institute of Medical Research in Sydney has teamed up with Google Cloud to process a data set of about 14,000 genomes to drive early diagnosis of rare genetic disorders.

According to a press statement, Garvan has processed what could be the largest genome data set in Australia to date by storing genomics data on Google Cloud and leveraging the Terra workflow and data management system by the Broad Institute.


Garvan and Google Cloud’s collaboration sought to resolve big issues in biomedical research, specifically in storing, analysing, and sharing genomic data. According to Google Cloud, doing such requires expertise and investment in population genomics.

“We know that solving some of the world’s biggest challenges doesn’t happen in a vacuum,” said Alister Dias, VP for Google Cloud Australia and New Zealand. “Google Cloud’s scalable and secure infrastructure enabled Garvan to analyse massive amounts of biomedical information at unprecedented speed,” he claimed.

The data set generated through their project will be used by the Centre for Population Genomics (CPG), a joint venture between Garvan and the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute, to “explore the distribution of genetic variation across populations and improve the diagnosis of rare genetic disorders”.


“Recent, substantial improvements in the national genomics landscape have resulted in the assembly of large-scale biobanks with hundreds of thousands of genomics-ready DNA samples and associated deep clinical data,” noted Sarah Kummerfeld, Garvan’s director of Data Science. 

To support the growing genomics sector in Australia, the federal government in March revealed that it is investing A$28.1 million ($19.9 million) to establish Genomics Australia, a forthcoming agency that will focus on ensuring the delivery and access to genomics-led medicine for all Australians. 

A task force within the Department of Health will design and establish the agency under the guidance of Kathryn North, director of the Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, before it becomes an official corporate Commonwealth entity by January 2024.


“In order for genomics to provide better prediction, diagnosis, and treatment of disease for all Australians, we need the ability to analyse human DNA at massive scale. This project demonstrates the value of a cloud computing model to achieve this,” CPG Director Daniel MacArthur commented.

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