Dan Ross

COG-UK computing effort wins collaboration award for COVID-19 work

HPCwire award recognises consortium's sequencing of tens of thousands of viral genomes

The COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium has been awarded Best High-Performance Computing (HPC) Collaboration at the HPCwire Readers’ and Editors’ Choice Awards 2020, in recognition of its work to process COVID-19 genomic sequence data and make it available to researchers. The awards recognise the most outstanding individuals, organisations, products, and technologies in the world of high-performance computing.

COG-UK was created in response to the global COVID-19 pandemic, with the aim of sequencing and analysing viral genomes to fully understand the transmission and evolution of the virus. The urgency of the situation requires large volumes of genetic sequence data to be generated rapidly. The sequencing is performed in collaboration across the COG-UK consortium, including at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, where it is initially processed by the Institute’s private cloud computing, before being passed on to the Cloud Infrastructure for Microbial Informatics (CLIMB) platform where it is combined.

The genetic sequence data are made available to researchers across the UK and beyond via the CLIMB platform, a collaboration between Warwick, Birmingham, Cardiff, Swansea, Bath and Leicester Universities, the MRC Unit the Gambia at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Quadram Institute. These data are enabling earlier investigations of outbreaks, and better understanding of how genetic mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 genome change the ability of the virus to transmit from person to person.

“At the beginning of the pandemic, we were asked to repurpose our cloud infrastructure to handle the large volumes of COVID-19 sequence data that would be coming in. Thanks to the skill and dedication of the team and the high-performance storage solutions provided by DDN, we were able to do this in record time. I’m extremely proud of the contribution that COG-UK has made to the world’s understanding of COVID-19.”

Dr Tim CuttsHead of Scientific Computing at the Wellcome Sanger Institute

“The Sanger Institute and its COG-UK partners have sequenced more COVID-19 genomes than anywhere else in the world, which is an incredible achievement. But this would mean nothing without making these data widely available, which has been made possible by our high-performance computing team.”

Dr Jeff Barrett Lead COVID-19 Statistical Geneticist at the Wellcome Sanger Institute

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Selected websites

  • COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK)

    The current COVID-19 pandemic, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, represents a major threat to health. The COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) consortium has been created to deliver large-scale and rapid whole-genome virus sequencing to local NHS centres and the UK government.

    Led by Professor Sharon Peacock of the University of Cambridge, COG-UK is made up of an innovative partnership of NHS organisations, the four Public Health Agencies of the UK, the Wellcome Sanger Institute and twelve academic partners providing sequencing and analysis capacity. A full list of collaborators can be found here: https://www.cogconsortium.uk/about/

    COG-UK was established in March 2020 supported by £20 million funding from the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Wellcome Sanger Institute, administered by UK Research and Innovation. For more information, visit: https://www.cogconsortium.uk or follow us on Twitter and on our Blog.

  • The Wellcome Sanger Institute

    The Wellcome Sanger Institute is a world leading genomics research centre. We undertake large-scale research that forms the foundations of knowledge in biology and medicine. We are open and collaborative; our data, results, tools and technologies are shared across the globe to advance science. Our ambition is vast – we take on projects that are not possible anywhere else. We use the power of genome sequencing to understand and harness the information in DNA. Funded by Wellcome, we have the freedom and support to push the boundaries of genomics. Our findings are used to improve health and to understand life on Earth. Find out more at www.sanger.ac.uk or follow us on TwitterFacebookLinkedIn and on our Blog.

  • About Wellcome

    Wellcome exists to improve health by helping great ideas to thrive. We support researchers, we take on big health challenges, we campaign for better science, and we help everyone get involved with science and health research. We are a politically and financially independent foundation. https://wellcome.org