This is the fourth episode of our series on SIB’s strategic axes for the future, following up on data security and clinical project developments, leveraging biocuration expertise and increasing the impact of the Institute's resources.

From a small-scale HPC cluster to an interdisciplinary bioinformatics centre of reference

Mark Ibberson, a new director from within
Mark, one of the Group’s nine senior scientists, has been appointed as new director in November, thus succeeding to Ioannis Xenarios.
Mark’s experience in the private sector as well as his recognized expertise as co-PI for several international research projects – including six pan-European Innovative Medicine Initiative (IMI) projects – will be invaluable assets for the Group.
After a PhD in medical genetics at the University of London, Mark has spent 10 years as bioinformatician in a major pharmaceutical company before joining SIB in 2010.

In 2003, SIB, the Universities of Geneva and Lausanne, and the EPFL launched the first Swiss High-Performance Computing centre to cover the growing computational needs of the life science community.

Fifteen years down the line, about 50 scientists and experts in data analysis, software development, database management, information technology or statistics, backed up by powerful computational power and storage, are involved in a wide diversity of research projects on the national and international scene.

Recognized for its ability to deliver on a wide variety of projects, the team’s activities revolved around three axes: HPC and bioinformatics services for SIB’s partner institutions; developments for SIB’s activities in the domain of biomedical data; research collaborations.

Bolstering the Group’s activities for the clinical world

Over the past decade, infrastructure maintenance costs and computational needs have evolved dramatically. Nowadays the trend for most SIB partner institutions is to set-up their own computing infrastructure – for life science but also for other scientific needs. In parallel to this shift in the computational environment, SIB has developed a strong competitive advantage in health-related domains over the past years, whether through its Clinical Bioinformatics activities, the BioMedIT project or its central role in the Swiss Personalized Health Network initiative (SPHN) as the Data Coordination Centre.

Therefore, acknowledging the growing needs of biomedical data management and analysis triggered by the development of personalized health research, the Group is expanding in these strategic fields. Its main activities are focused on supporting research for health and personalized medicine, thanks to its recognized skills in software development, data analysis as well as the creation of a state-of-the-art HPC infrastructure dedicated to clinical data management.

In addition, the Group also manages over 1000 software packages, which are highly used by researchers in its partner institutions. SIB will ensure that a larger public can take advantage of this software stack in the future.

Altogether, these developments, conducted on top of the Group’s cross-border research collaborations such as the IMI projects, will no doubt reinforce its position as a partner of choice for international health projects.