eResearch and Bioinformatics Cross Paths at CUB

(Written by Anelda van der Walt)

This week we decided to reach out to the local eResearch initiative at the University of Cape Town to find out how eResearch is impacting the world of Bioinformaticians locally (and internationally).

Anthony Beitz, previously general manager at Monash eResearch Centre in Melbourne now interim director of UCT eResearch, treated us to a whirlwind tour of computational solutions for data analysis, visualisation, and even collaboration.

UCT eResearch was the brainchild of Sakkie Janse van Rensburg, executive director at UCT ICTS and was formed in 2014.  The initiatives partners with researchers at UCT to accelerate and transform research discovery through the application of advanced ICT technology such as high performance computing, visualisation, data management, and communication technologies.  In the past 12 months eResearch have collaborated with a diverse set of researchers on high-impact projects such as the Human, Hereditry, and Health project and specifically the H3ABionet subproject, African Mining Legislation Atlas, building computational infrastructure for the Olympus Virtual Microscope, and collaborated to establish one of the few first-in-human clinical trial sites on the African continent amongst others.

Training forms an integral part of the eResearch philosophy and for this reason they’ve recently launched a HPC training programme at beginners and advanced levels.  In 2014 eResearch co-organised a double-room Software Carpentry workshop as part of the eResearch Africa conference and this year they will be running several more Software Carpentry workshops.  The next workshop will run on 16 and 17 July on UCT Upper Campus.

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The eResearch team consists of researchers, IT and HPC experts, and software developers.

After Anthony’s presentation there was ample opportunity for the bioinformaticians representing Stellenbosch University, University of the Western Cape, and University of Cape Town, to informally discuss the opportunities around eResearch.