StarLife, new infrastructure to boost biomedical research, begins operation




  • The initiative is coordinated by the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), the Institute for Research in Biomedicine Barcelona (IRB Barcelona) and the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG) as part of a public-private initiative supported by ”la Caixa” Banking Foundation.
  • It is designed to provide a high-performance service to meet the growing need to handle, analyze and store the vast amounts of data needed for biomedical research and personalized medicine.

Wednesday, February 27th, 2019, marked the official presentation of StarLife, an informatics cluster that is housed at the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC). This IT infrastructure is designed to boost and serve biomedical research of excellence and precision medicine. A joint initiative coordinated by the Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC), Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona) and the Centre for Genomic Regulation (CRG), and has financial support from the Catalan Government -through the ERDF- and ”la Caixa” Banking Foundation.

Key to genomics and personalized medicine

StarLife is a computational infrastructure for large-scale biomedical projects of BSC, IRB Barcelona and CRG that require an architecture designed specifically to handle and make use of vast volumes of biomedical data.

Hospitals and biomedical research centers are generating ever greater amounts of molecular and omic data, medical images, data from medical devices and clinical histories which, in terms of their amount and complexity, are equivalent to those generated in other knowledge areas such as astronomy and meteorology.

Interpreting these data and integrating them in simulation environments is essential in order to progress in developing biomedical research and personalized medicine, including understanding how living organisms work, drug development and disease treatment.

StarLife will make it possible to implement advanced computation techniques, such as those used to detect new genes related to diseases such as cancer and rare diseases, as well as simulating the behaviour of molecules in order to speed up drug discovery.

A step forward resulting from collaboration in ongoing research

StarLife is part of the activities of the BSC, IRB Barcelona and CRG Joint Computational Biology Program that, since 2014, is dedicated to foster the development of computational  methods and applications in various areas of molecular biology and biomedicine.

“The scale and flexibility of the new equipment will make it possible for scientists from the promoting institutions to conduct cutting-edge research”, said Luis Serrano, CRG's director. “In addition to being the infrastructure that will provide a service to researchers all around the world through the European Genome-phenome Archive (EGA), StarLife will help us to be the main global center for storing and distributing genomic and medical data concerning human diseases”, he concluded.

"The StarLife equipment is a turning point in our research and consolidates the centers of the Joint Computational Biology Program as a global leaders in the field of computational applications in biology and biomedicine" according to Francesc Posas, the director of IRB Barcelona.

A flexible system complementing the MareNostrum supercomputer

StarLife is a computation and storage system with a calculation capacity of 132.8 teraflops (133 trillion operations per second), a storage capacity of 9.5 petabytes (10 million gigabytes) and 9.1 terabytes (9,100 gigabytes) of RAM.

“Its main feature is that it can easily be reconfigured and adapted to the various needs of different biomedicine-related tasks, which include execution in a high-performance computing environment, the cloud and big data analysis”, explained Sergi Girona, BSC's director of Operations, "and when we conduct very specific analyses with a great need for supercomputing, we have the MareNostrum supercomputer.”


StarLife at BSC web:

Original press release: