In a recent interview with one of our companies, Bioarray Therapeutics, I got an inside look at how founder, Marcia Fournier, made use of the Venture Development Center’s supercomputing facilities. The supercomputer was developed by another VDC company, Symmetric Computing. Marcia tells us how beneficial it has been to work with the founder of Symmetric Computing, Richard Anderson, and how high performance computing has helped to meet Bioarray’s data analytics needs.
EF: Can you give me Bioarray’s unique value proposition in a minute elevator pitch?
MF: Would you like to know if your breast cancer treatment was effective before you underwent the process? Bioarray improves the low efficiency of the first time treatments of breast cancer patients.
EF: What is your main business goal right now?
MF: For our diagnostic to reach the industry standard in validation and qualification (level one evidence of Institute of Medicine). Expand a team and meet financial goals.
EF: What types of needs did you have in terms of data analytics?
MF: We had a need to analyze large sets of gene expression, clinical outcomes and clinical outcomes data. We were doing it in-house and it was taking weeks to analyze one set of data. We also had a need to be able to let our users and potential customers (laboratory service providers, MDx reference laboratories) process their data using Bioarray’s algorithms without compromising Bioarray’s IP.
EF: How did Symmetric Computing meet these needs?
MF: Symmetric’s Richard Anderson had a powerful machine and the expertise on how to use it. Not only could the computer process what would take weeks in a couple of hours, but Richard has high performance computing expertise. He suggested that Bioarray build a portal so that users could enter the data and get the results that they needed without exposing Bioarray’s special sauce.
EF: Were you considering other data analytic options? Why did you choose Symmetric over other data analytic options?
MF: Bioarray didn’t really consider other options. It was just serendipitous that we happened to be at the VDC where Richard started sharing the capabilities of the machine with me.
EF: How has effectively analyzing data made an impact on your business?
MF: Saving time was critical to getting Bioarray to the point that we could run tests and get results smoothly and repetitively – all working towards our goal of reaching the industry standard. The other major impact it has had on me is the element of partnership. It’s one thing to contract services out to different consultants and vendors, but when you have someone working with you towards similar goals, there is real value in that. For example, other than designing a portal, Richard’s expertise suggested that Bioarray create a database full of de-identified data that the company could then use for research and/or sell to a third party.