Dealing with Deluge of “Big Data”

As medical research has become more specialized, the scientific and medical community’s understanding of the human body has increased resulting in enhanced treatments, new drugs, and better health outcomes.

However, a side effect of this information explosion or called “big data” is the fragmentation of knowledge. With thousands of new articles being published by medical journals every day, often developments that could inform and add context to medicine’s global body of knowledge may go unnoticed.

For the past five years Screenivas Rangan Sukumar, a data scientist at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) www.ornl.gov has been working with health data and the high performance computing resources at ORNL’s Compute and Data Environment for Science (CADES).

When medical researchers and clinicians want to know the latest biomedical research, they turn to MEDLINE which is the National Library of Medicine’s (NLM) www.nlm.nih.gov comprehensive life sciences and biomedical information.

To improve the usefulness of MEDLINE searches, NLM researchers developed software called Semantic MEDLINE which is capable of organizing a great deal of information. However, one of the limitations of NLM’s Semantic MEDLINE involves computing.

To deal with the computer limitations of Semantic MEDLINE, ORNL has been collaborating with NLM on a project called “Oak Ridge Graph Analytics for Medical Innovation” (ORiGAMI). This project’s goal is to unite emerging technologies to produce a common framework to allow data to be shared more freely.

ORiGAMI is able to help the medical profession by providing a free online application capable of delivering health insights in less than a second based on the combined knowledge of a worldwide medical community.

In the hands of medical experts and clinicians, ORiGAMI has the potential to increase the efficiency of medical research by directing researchers toward the right questions and knowledge, and produce the outcome that could reduce costs and speed up delivery of new treatments.

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