Galaxy Australia is a free, web-accessible platform that enables life scientists across the globe to test, evaluate and peer review their work, making the next cure for chronic disease within reach.
Galaxy Australia lets users analyse data without having to train in programming and IT and the outcomes from this are massive. It helps research groups better understand cancer and infectious diseases, and enables collaboration nationally and internationally. It’s operated by the Queensland Cyber Infrastructure Foundation (QCIF) and the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne Bioinformatics and supported by Australian BioCommons, Bioplatforms Australia and the Australian Research Data Commons (ARDC), which are enabled by the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy (NCRIS). Galaxy Australia is also an essential member of the global Galaxy Project community.
It’s recognised as a significant bioinformatics research resource, with 75 peer reviewed papers and 14 higher degree theses using Galaxy Australia to support their bioinformatics analysis. It’s hosted on the ARDC’s Nectar Research Cloud, which provides fast, interactive, self-service access to computing infrastructure, software, and data, and supports many collaborative research tools and platforms. For Galaxy Australia 7 000+ users from 420+ organisations, the software and the computers to run it are already set up to suit their analysis needs, so they can essentially click and go. This has led to the recent major milestone: the execution of its one millionth analysis job.
The Genomics Virtual Laboratory and Galaxy Australia have evolved over years of close collaboration between Melbourne Bioinformatics, University of Melbourne, QCIF and University of Queensland’s Research Computing Centre. Dr Paul Coddington, Associate Director Research Cloud and Storage at ARDC, reflects on how far it has come.
“Since 2012, the ARDC and its precursors have provided significant support in setting up, evolving and improving Galaxy Australia. Initially developed as a Nectar Virtual Laboratory, then supported by the ARDC Data-enhanced Virtual Laboratory (DeVL) program and its contribution to the Australian Biocommons Pathfinder program, and now significant enhancements to Galaxy Australia are being supported through the ARDC Platforms program,” Dr Coddington said.
The ARDC Platforms program recently co-invested in the expansion of Galaxy Australia through the Australian BioCommons-led Bring Your Own Data (BYOD) Expansion Project. The project will integrate data-generating instruments across genomics, proteomics and metabolomics, enhance accessibility to high-priority reference data, and manage access to data stores and compute infrastructures. The platform will support web and command-line access, expand access to Galaxy Australia and improve data transfer from instruments to analytics.
Galaxy Australia’s Service Manager, Dr Gareth Price, sees great things ahead for the project saying Galaxy Australia is growing beyond genomics to service life science (proteomics, metabolomics) and has been set up in a way that can be adopted by other research disciplines, from global ecology, language, image processing and more.
“Galaxy Australia uses a system called Pulsar, a distributed job application system built to speed up the user experience. Currently they’re running on Nectar Research Cloud Nodes in Brisbane and Melbourne, but we’re looking to expand this system, with the hopes to engage Sydney Informatics Hub, the Pawsey Supercomputing Centre and NCI to deploy them,” Dr Price said.
Director, Australian Bioinformatics Commons and Senior Advisor, Melbourne Bioinformatics Associate Professor Andrew Lonie was always convinced of Galaxy Australia’s potential.
“It is now a mature platform for both analysing complex data and teaching the new generation of biologists how to do this new kind of research. We’re thrilled to see it expanding in size, reach and potential and that Australia is a vital player in this global platform,” Associate Professor Lonie said.