At the 2014 Global Windows Azure Bootcamp we intend to do something very grand – because we can and we have the computing power to do so. It will be a great big computing lab with thousands of running servers in Windows Azure! During last year’s (2013) Global Windows Azure Bootcamp, we ran over 9,000 virtual machines as part of a Render Farm lab. Many of our 92 global locations pitched in to share in the power of cloud computing. We rendered 724,059 3D-ray-traced image frames in about a 26-hour period. This turned into playful 3D videos and was rendered using almost eight years’ worth of computing time. Imagine how much research could be done with that amount of power. With great power comes great responsibility, Uncle Ben said. What if we use this computational power to study human disease? At our 2014 Global Windows Azure Boot Camp, you can join thousands of friends online by participating in our Global Event, supporting cutting edge diabetes research at the same time.
In America about 26 million people are currently affected by diabetes and perhaps 79 million more Americans are at risk for contracting diabetes. The estimated direct and indirect total costs of diagnosed diabetes in the USA were $245 billion in 2012. Research is currently ongoing to find a way to detect the disease as early as possible by analyzing biomarkers in the complex sugars manufactured by human cells. Early detection means faster treatment before the disease progresses.
(Please note that PNNL has usage rights to the image above portraying Mr. Harrison Ford in a research setting.)
On March 29th, 2014, the Global Windows Azure Boot Camp event will help advance this work by hosting a globally distributed lab in which attendees of the event will deploy virtual machines in Windows Azure to help analyze data needed for this research. We are applying PNNL’s latest distributed mass spectrometry analysis tools to discover how our body’s serum protein glycosylation works. We want to know how high blood sugar levels in diabetes patients affect the complex sugar production systems required for our health and ability to fight disease. We want to explore the idea that when small changes in this process occur, they can lead to Type 2 diabetes. The results from this work will not only help understand the human diabetic state at the molecular level but also lead the way for early detection of diabetes.
“Microsoft is very proud of its technical community and we have never seen an event of this size and magnitude attempted with over 140 locations and near 10,000 people attending. Their efforts to bring together so many people for this world-wide educational event and to build the world’s largest crowd-sourced compute lab for Diabetes research is an amazing feat. Microsoft is proud to be a part of this event and to be associated with a great group of technical leaders.” – Mark J Brown, Microsoft Corporation
The research is led by Richard D. Smith in the Biological Sciences Division at Pacific Northwest National lab (PNNL) in collaboration with Minnie M. Sarwal and Tara K. Sigdel at the California Pacific Medical Center Research Institute. Microsoft Windows Azure for Research sponsors PNNL with a research grant to use Windows Azure for their research. At PNNL, we are developing technologies for advanced carbohydrate analysis at the molecular level using mass spectrometry. We are applying them to study human health and biofuel production systems such as cellulose degradation. Scott R. Kronewitter and Clay D. Hagler wrote the GlyQ-IQ software, with help from Brian J. Abrahamson, Timothy S. Carlson and David G. Camp II, and developed it to run in a massively multicore parallel deployment. The technical folks behind the Global Windows Azure Bootcamp brought along a massive set of virtual machine server instances and CPUs from all over the world to handle the processing. We believe a great team of scientists, software professionals and attendees to the global event will be the perfect mix.
If you want to learn about the Windows Azure platform and contribute to research that can result in discovering Type 2 diabetes in a very early stage, find a location near you and sign up for this global event taking place on March 29th, 2014.