Quadram Institute Bioscience in Norwich has received £2 million from UKRI to fund state-of-the-art cloud-computing infrastructure to enable UK microbiologists to analyse microbial sequences, including COVID-19 viral genomes.

Quadram has launched CLIMB-BIG-DATA, a five-year collaborative cross-institutional programme to deliver a robust and user-friendly cloud-computing infrastructure for microbial bioinformatics.

The aim is to provide microbiologists across the UK with the computational infrastructure and tools to analyse DNA and RNA sequences from microbes, allowing them to cope with the deluge of big data created by modern sequencing pipelines.

The programme builds on the success of a previous project, CLIMB (Cloud Infrastructure in Microbial Bioinformatics). It is supported by the UKRI grant but over the next five years the project will steadily become self-sufficient by gleaning funds from users.

CLIMB-BIG-DATA is a partnership of eight institutions. It is led by Quadram  on the Norwich Research Park, joined by the Universities of Bath, Birmingham, Cardiff, Leicester, Swansea and Warwick, together with the MRC Unit The Gambia at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

An associated community engagement programme will include bioinformatics training, hackathons and research symposia. One of the key features of the initiative is to build a bridge between academic research and clinical applications