Learning to share big data | Washington and Puget Sound Business News Source | Seattle Business Magazine
"The University of Washington has launched a new project that could dramatically increase the power of academic research by giving a broad universe of scientists — including astronomers, physicists, chemists and biologists — faster and smarter ways of extracting information and meaning from the increasingly large amounts of data they have available to them. The new project is managed by the UW’s newly established eScience Institute and paid for in part by a $37.8 million grant from the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The UW is sharing the grant with the University of California–Berkeley and New York University. The project addresses a common conundrum in the research community: While an enormous amount of data is generated by everything from sensor networks on the ocean floor to measurements of the proteins moving in human cells, there is a shortage of the very data scientists who know how to extract insights from these data. 'We are in the very early stages where we are just figuring out what we can do with all of this [data] and we need partnerships between the people inventing methods [of analyzing data] and people using them,' says Ed Lazowska, the UW data scientist who founded the eScience Institute. He explains that the institute will act as a matchmaker, helping researchers apply the most appropriate technology available to their work. Lazowska sees Seattle as an epicenter of this marriage of data science and research because of the rich combination here of scientists, entrepreneurs and cloud computing resources. The exponential surge in data is a byproduct of computerization along with the ability through the use of millions of sensors and other devices to measure everything. The UW, for example, is laying down a massive sensor network on the ocean floor that will generate a veritable Niagara Falls of data about currents, water temperature and salt content. Properly analyzed, the data could help predict earthquakes or better understand the nature of climate warming. The importance of data analysis in research was underscored recently when five pharmaceutical giants agreed to openly share their data on certain diseases with each other and with the National Institutes of Health in hopes of saving money by more rapidly targeting the right drugs early in the research pipeline ..."