AHEAD IN THE CLOUD
CIO Thomson Guides NHLBI into Off-Site Computing

As advanced IT use grows, Alastair Thomson, CIO at NHLBI, is steering towards cloud computing.
As advanced IT use grows, Alastair Thomson, CIO at NHLBI, is steering towards cloud computing.

Scientific data is not what it used to be. It used to come in megabytes and then gigabytes, but today terabytes and petabytes are becoming the norm and innovations in science seem to consume more bytes every day. That’s one reason Alastair Thomson, NHLBI chief information officer, and his NIH colleagues began looking to the cloud for IT resources.

“I remember back around 1992 or so I was ordering 1-gig servers and I thought, ‘How in the world will anyone ever use that much space?’” Thomson recalled. “Now we’ve got a new microscope going into Bldg. 14F that uses a massive amount of image data. We’re talking way past gigabytes or even terabytes these days.”

As technology gets more sophisticated, it also begins to require more resources to keep up with it.

Cloud computing—paying a third party to handle IT infrastructure off-site—has been around awhile, nearly two decades according to some estimates. In recent years, however, those in charge of providing IT resources for large organizations have increasingly investigated remote use of hardware, storage capacity, energy for electricity and cooling, speed and power.

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‘THE ELVIS OF PMI-CP’
Dishman Follows Instincts to Top PMI Cohort Post

Eric Dishman
Eric Dishman

If you’re straight with the universe, maybe the universe will be straight with you.

How else to explain the arrival of Eric Dishman, director of the Precision Medicine Initiative Cohort Program (PMI-CP), who owes his life and health to precision medicine and now wants to make the “Hail Mary pass” that saved him from kidney cancer common medical practice?

Five years ago, Dishman, now 48, was in full kidney failure and facing a life of dialysis with limited chemo options for his spreading cancer; a scar on his right wrist testifies to the arteriovenous fistula physicians had prepared for accessing his bloodstream. But thanks to a whole genome sequence, the donation of a kidney from a coworker at his former employer, Intel, and tailored treatments to eradicate his cancer, he is a kind of poster child for President Obama’s vision of precision medicine.

Getting his face on that poster involved following his nose; Dishman can trace the last 25 years of his career to a single decision to buy a book, Computers as Theatre, by Brenda Laurel.

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