Biohacking Healthcare - Part 2

Eric Valor | Forbes | September 18, 2012

Cloudy With A Chance Of Models

One of the most valuable research tools is a model of the type of problem you are trying to solve. This allows for study of the problem mechanism and allows attempts at solving various parts of the problem without disrupting an actual patient or when such is unavailable. Models can be cells in a dish, creatures of progressive complexity, or, not requiring warehousing and organic maintenance, computational models that exist only on computers. Computational models can be convenient but typically involve terabytes or petabytes of data (terabyte = 1000 gigabytes, petabyte = 1000 terabytes) and can require powerful processors to work through the data to produce an answer within a reasonable time frame. Such infrastructure can be prohibitively expensive for new and/or small research groups.

With the Internet, new options for renting infrastructure exist. Services such as Amazon’s EC2 allow for rental of computer infrastructure that can be scaled up or down at will without expensive equipment purchases, technician costs, and downtime. This type of service is known as “cloud computing” and might be more familiar to readers in forms such as Gmail or Google Docs. This lack of centralized infrastructure also supports and promotes collaboration between geologically-dispersed teams communicating electronically...