The Genetic Cluster Computer

The past decade has seen an explosive growth in the scale at which human genetic research takes place in terms of sample size, number of traits and availability of genetic marker information. This has led to a parallel increase in the demand on computing power. Access to high computing power is therefore crucial to our understanding of human complex traits.

The Genetic Cluster Computer was set-up by CTGlab in 2007 with funding from the Netherlands Scientific Organization and the VU University to meet the need for high computing power in genetic research. Up until this day CTGlab manages the genetic cluster, coordinates access, keeps track of efficient use and is responsible for data transfer agreements. Of course we also use the cluster for heavy computing and testing novel statistical algorithms.

In the spirit of open source software and sharing knowledge and resources, we have made access to the Genetic Cluster available to national and international researchers within the field of genetics. We also teach beginning users how to work within a UNIX environment and how to use the cluster efficiently. The Genetic Cluster is part of the Dutch LISA cluster and is hosted by SurfSARA Computing and Networking Services .

Since its inception, the Genetic Cluster Computer has become the central data warehousing and computing facility for many large national and international projects in genetics such as the Psychiatric Genomics Consortium , the Tobacco and Alcohol Genetics consortium and the Social Sciences Genetic Association Consortium. It has been instrumental in multiple major scientific breakthroughs, including novel gene findings for e.g. schizophrenia, diabetes, myopia, depression, intelligence, educational attainment and smoking.

Use of the Genetic Cluster is gratefully acknowledged at every major international genetics conference and in ~100 scientific papers, published in top scientific journals such as Science, Nature, Nature Genetics, Molecular Psychiatry, Lancet, The American Journal of Human Genetics, and The American Journal of Psychiatry, which are referenced on the Genetic Cluster’s website . Currently, the Genetic Cluster has >300 users from Europe, Asia, the US and Australia, of whom ~100 use the cluster daily.