IBM Tackles Personalized Medicine’s Big Data Challenge, One Genome At A Time

Fast Company | July 18, 2011

By Ariel Schwartz

One human’s genome represents a large chunk of data. Put a lot of genomes together and it starts to become unmanageable. So IBM is working on solutions to easily manage how we store and access our medical information.

Personalized medicine has the potential to radically change the health-care business; just imagine if every cancer patient could get a treatment customized to work best with their genes. But there’s a problem: storing genetic information is a data nightmare–genotyping a single individual can produce up to 1.5 GB of data. That adds up quickly, which is why IBM is stepping in to keep our genetic information organized.

IBM teamed up with the Coriell Institute for Medical Research, the largest biobank of living human cells, to help maintain its collection of biomaterials, which include cell lines and DNA samples representing over half of the 4,000 known genetic diseases–everything from diabetes to cancer.

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