Bioinformatics Core Facility at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center

Bioinformatics core facility at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center is a physical and intellectual infrastructure that facilitates the scientific computing and storage needs of members of the Danforth Center community.

Physically, the core supports computing through several modalities: 1) high-performance computing and workflow management on an HTCondor cluster; 2) virtualized applications using machine- and container-level virtualization; 3) web/database applications and support. Currently, the infrastructure contains over 1300 processors and 2800 graphics processors, more than 8 terabytes of memory, and a single, high-performance 721 terabyte storage area network. These resources are shared in a managed, multi-user environment and communicate via a 10 gigabit ethernet network. Management of the system is simplified through virtualization of key services, which also allows for the deployment of diverse applications and platforms simultaneously.

Intellectual development is offered by the bioinformatics facility through regular workshops and training events, custom application development for lab or group projects, and community-based sharing of software and ideas. In addition, the bioinformatics facility enhances interaction between groups at the center and partner institutions, such as Washington University in St. Louis and the University of Missouri-Columbia, and facilitates interoperation between local computing and storage resources and public/private cloud/cyberinfrastructures such as Amazon Web Services, CyVerse, and Open Science Grid.

Services offered by the bioinformatics core facility include 1) user services: authentication services/user accounts, software installation, patches and upgrades, troubleshooting, advising, Slack (virtual help desk), GitHub (documentation, tickets), training (system usage, specific software, workflows), documentation, and outreach; 2) computing: cluster resources, web server hosting, database server hosting, maintenance/upgrades, system monitoring, and virtual machine and container management; 3) storage: monitoring, performance configuration, and maintenance. Additionally, the core facility consults on the development of computational components of proposals and assists with editing of computational and bioinformatics proposal sections. The core facility also offers analysis services, ranging from whole project consulting, to individual bioinformatics task completion.