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VA and DoE to Use Supercomputing for Transformative Science

By analyzing big data via supercomputing, the VA aims to improve health care treatment methods using the new research.


The VA and the Department of Energy (DoE) have formed a new partnership focused on secure analysis of “big data.” The VA-DoE Big Data Science Initiative will use digital health and genomic data from the Million Veteran Program (MVP), the VA’s electronic health records system, DoD, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, and the CDC’s National Death Index.

The partnership is based in DoE’s National Laboratory system, one of the world’s top resources for supercomputing, where machines are capable of millions of billions of calculations per second. The partnership will allow thousands of researchers access to this unprecedented data resource over time in a secure environment, said VA Secretary David J. Shulkin, MD.

An initial suite of specific studies is already being planned, the VA says. One group of researchers will build algorithms to generate “highly tailored” risk scores for suicide, which could help VA clinicians and researchers predict which patients are at highest risk and evaluate prevention strategies.

Other projects include one to find new ways to distinguish lethal from nonlethal prostate cancer and another to determine which risk factors best predict certain forms of cardiovascular disease.

“The transformative science that will be developed through this partnership,” Shulkin says, “will improve health care for veterans and all Americans.”

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