, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 311-322
Date: 23 Aug 2013

The perfect neuroimaging-genetics-computation storm: collision of petabytes of data, millions of hardware devices and thousands of software tools

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The volume, diversity and velocity of biomedical data are exponentially increasing providing petabytes of new neuroimaging and genetics data every year. At the same time, tens-of-thousands of computational algorithms are developed and reported in the literature along with thousands of software tools and services. Users demand intuitive, quick and platform-agnostic access to data, software tools, and infrastructure from millions of hardware devices. This explosion of information, scientific techniques, computational models, and technological advances leads to enormous challenges in data analysis, evidence-based biomedical inference and reproducibility of findings. The Pipeline workflow environment provides a crowd-based distributed solution for consistent management of these heterogeneous resources. The Pipeline allows multiple (local) clients and (remote) servers to connect, exchange protocols, control the execution, monitor the states of different tools or hardware, and share complete protocols as portable XML workflows. In this paper, we demonstrate several advanced computational neuroimaging and genetics case-studies, and end-to-end pipeline solutions. These are implemented as graphical workflow protocols in the context of analyzing imaging (sMRI, fMRI, DTI), phenotypic (demographic, clinical), and genetic (SNP) data.

Some of the data used in preparation of this article were obtained from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) database (adni.loni.ucla.edu). As such, the investigators within the ADNI contributed to the design and implementation of ADNI and/or provided data but did not participate in analysis or writing of this report. A complete listing of ADNI investigators can be found at: http://adni.loni.ucla.edu/wp-content/uploads/how_to_apply/ADNI_Acknowledgement_List.pdf.