National Computational Infrastructure

NCI Australia logo with the words Providing Australian researchers with world-class high-end computing services

  • Thousands of genomes prepared for clinical use

    Thousands of genomes prepared for clinical use

    In late 2016, biologists from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and The Australian National University’s John Curtin School of Medical Research took 1,206 human genomes, and in one night of computation at NCI, realigned them to the human reference genome and identified the genetic variations they contained. Genome alignment is a technique for stitching together the many snippets of the genomic sequence that are produced by sequencers in the lab. There are millions of such snippets in any sequenced ... Read More

  • Supercomputer modelling helps understand commonly used drugs

    Supercomputer modelling helps understand commonly used drugs

    A researcher from The Australian National University has modelled the activity of six common pharmaceutical drugs used in pain relief, anaesthetics and epilepsy treatments using the NCI supercomputer. Supercomputer modelling allows Dr Amanda Buyan to understand the interaction between the drugs and their target cells at a molecular level, using bigger and more complex simulations to see previously unknown details. Dr Buyan says, “Understanding the molecular detail of how these drugs work gives us clues to why they might be affecting a ... Read More

  • Preparing hospitals for dangerously hot days

    Preparing hospitals for dangerously hot days

    Extreme weather is a part of life in Australia: bushfires, droughts, floods, cyclones, heatwaves. And every time an extreme weather event comes around, the health impacts are clear. In Australia, we expect Summer to be hot. But there are hot days, and then there are hot days. We’re talking about the kind of heat that you can’t get away from, that our homes aren’t built to deal with and that we aren’t ready to handle. This is the kind of hot weather ... Read More

  • Drug Design in the 21st Century

    Drug Design in the 21st Century

    When you ingest medicine from your pharmacist, specific proteins in your body transport them to where they need to go. In particular, some proteins play a key role in moving the drugs in and out of cells. When designing new drugs, it is vital to know exactly what these proteins are doing and how they work. Despite their big role in so many of our body functions, these proteins are incredibly small: they are made up of around 50 to 100 ... Read More

  • On a yellow background, an industrial object lines up with a scatter plot.

    Improved cancer treatments with software modelling

    Over 120,000 new cases of cancer are diagnosed in Australia every year, impacting the lives of millions of people. Often, these are treated with a combination of chemotherapy, radiation therapy and surgery. In Australia, the most common kind of radiation therapy for cancer uses X-rays. They are a well-understood tool for cancer treatment, and are effective with many kinds of cancers. Most people are aware, however, of the side effects of cancer treatments: the damage they cause to functioning organs and ... Read More

  • Untangling the mystery of birth defects

    Untangling the mystery of birth defects

    While the diagnosis of birth defects in utero continually improves, the task of eradicating them entirely requires an understanding of the complexity of their formation. Advancements in genetic sequencing and the field of computer-based analysis of genomes – bioinformatics – are opening up new possibilities in this space. Professor Sally Dunwoodie, head of the Embryology Lab at the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, has dedicated years to untangling the mystery behind the genetics of birth defects. Her research has discovered eight ... Read More

  • A stylised version of a DNA helix, with pale beads strung together against a purple background.

    The next step in Australian genetic medicine

    Australian researchers from the Garvan Institute of Medical Research are developing a ground breaking database of human genetic information using the unique facilities and expertise of the National Computational Infrastructure. The Medical Genome Reference Bank (MGRB), run by the Garvan Institute of Medical Research and funded by NSW Office for Health and Medical Research, will be comprised of over 4000 complete human genomes from disease-free seniors. The MGRB participants come from two contributing studies, 45 and Up (Sax Institute, Sydney), and ... Read More

  • Tackling autoimmune diseases using sequencing

    Tackling autoimmune diseases using sequencing

    Patients with auto-immune diseases will be receiving more personalised treatments thanks to the work of scientists sequencing the human genome to look for uncommon variations. “Auto-immune diseases are diseases like lupus, type 1 diabetes and rheumatoid arthritis, and we are more and more convinced that rare gene variants are going to be very informative in understanding these diseases” says Professor Carola Vinuesa from The Australian National University. Auto-immune diseases are often quite rare and hard to diagnose, and the genetic causes have ... Read More

  • Studying biomolecules with atomic precision

    Studying biomolecules with atomic precision

    Researchers from the University of Queensland are using the National Computational Infrastructure to study the behaviour of biomolecules such as proteins and cell membranes with atomic precision. Of particular interest is the way these biomolecules interact. Understanding the way that proteins and other molecules bind to cell membranes is challenging because of the variety and complexity of the processes involved. Professor Alan Mark explains that “Experimentally you can’t observe these systems in atomic detail. The only way to really understand how these ... Read More

  • A montage from left to right of a stylised DNA double helix, a panel of DNA sequence letters and the Raijin supercomputer, all overlayed with the same green tinge.

    Medicine looks to the future with genomics and big data

    The diagnosis and treatment of cancer and rare diseases in Australia is set to benefit from a partnership between the Australian Genomics Health Alliance (AGHA) and the National Computational Infrastructure (NCI). Genomic medicine uses a patient’s individual genetic information to guide their clinical care, and helps researchers advance medical understanding of the ways diseases work and how they might be better treated. However, performing all the required analyses on genomic data requires significant computational power and a large capacity for data ... Read More

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