School of Nursing’s Irene Yang uses AWS at Emory for genomic research

Dr. Irene Yang, Emory School of Nursing

When Irene Yang (asst. professor, School of Nursing) came to Emory, she embarked on a different research journey than most. Her chosen field of study was the microbiome, which is the study of microorganisms that live in a particular area. Part of her training in this field concerned how to analyze the complex gene data of bacteria and other organisms.

Genomic research involves big data and Irene’s research always includes a huge number of gene sequences. When she needs to run them through an analytic pipeline, her work computer isn’t powerful enough to perform the analysis without glitches.

Irene decided to get in touch with AWS at Emory.

Her first encounter with AWS at Emory came when she and her colleagues were trying to download data from the American Gut Project (the world’s largest crowdsourced scientific research project, which seeks to study microorganisms in the body through donated samples). There was a tremendous amount of data to download and Irene reached out to Circe Tsui (associate director, solutions architect) for help.

Since then, Irene has used the AWS at Emory team for various projects.

“I am an extreme novice when it comes to AWS,” says Irene. “The team has been extremely helpful in guiding me through the tools.” Often, faculty at Emory are uncertain if their data needs rise to the level of AWS at Emory. Fortunately, the AWS team is skilled at consulting with researchers and helping them understand what is available.

Adds Irene, “I don’t use AWS on a continuing basis, but only as needed for my research. The tools get easier each time I use them. Once the team gets me set up, it’s simple to use.”

Irene says that she feels comfortable working with the AWS at Emory team, especially because their training and backgrounds help them understand the needs of medical researchers.

“I tell my colleagues that it’s a shame I go to the AWS at Emory team as an individual researcher,” says Irene. “I would love to see usage of the service become more well-known throughout Emory’s research community. More and more researchers are becoming interested in AWS, and it’s not always genome research.”

“I’ve found it very useful.”

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