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Verily and Broad Institute bring Terra research platform to Microsoft

by Robin Lasky, Contributing Reporter | January 13, 2021
Business Affairs Health IT
Adding Microsoft as a collaborator, Verily and the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard have a powerful new partner in their efforts to enhance Terra, their open-source biomedical research platform.

Already used by thousands of health and life science researchers, Terra is a secure, open-sourced platform used to access, share, and analyze biomedical data. Now, with the addition of Microsoft’s Azure cloud and AI machine learning technologies, more than 168,000 researchers around the globe may be able to access data, run analysis tools and collaborate.

“Our three organizations share the goals of improving patient care, driving innovation in biomedical research, and lowering costs across healthcare and life sciences,” said Stephen Gillett, chief operating officer at Verily, in a statement. “This partnership combines multimodal data, secure analytics and scalable cloud computing to improve insight and evidence generation, allowing us to ultimately impact more patients’ lives.”

Verily, the life sciences company operating under Google parent company Alphabet, co-developed Terra and has been providing the service on Google’s cloud infrastructure for the past three years.

The new partnership is an example of Google Cloud’s struggles to gain traction against its larger cloud competitors, reports CNBC, as well as Microsoft’s success enlisting a broad range of Azure partners across industries.

Healthcare security has been a point of focus in recent years as cyberattacks have increased exponentially on hospitals and other care facilities. In April, Microsoft warned healthcare providers to be mindful of ransomware operators seeking to access critical systems during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“During this time of crisis, as organizations have moved to a remote workforce, ransomware operators have found a practical target: network devices like gateway and virtual private network (VPN) appliances,” the tech giant cautioned at the time. “As part of intensified monitoring and takedown of threats that exploit the COVID-19 crisis, Microsoft has been putting an emphasis on protecting critical services, especially hospitals.”

Building on the open-source foundation of Terra, the new collaboration between Microsoft, Verily, and the Broad Institute will seek to advance the ability of data scientists, biomedical researchers and clinicians around the world to collaborate in tackling complex and widespread diseases.

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