Neuroinformatics

Neuroinformatics capabilities in the Parkville precinct have substantially evolved and improved over the last decade. There have been many contributions supporting the development and operation of these capabilities.

NSV played a vital role in contributing to the infrastructure support and early development of the Neuroimaging Informatics platform. This platform originally consisted of a super- computer ('soma') on which a data management capability (now called 'DaRIS') operated. DaRIS was tightly integrated with MR scanners and the storage and compute elements of 'soma' providing users an integrated environment.

This Platform has now been integrated into other bioinformatics initiatives within the Melbourne precinct research computing landscape. The 'soma' computer was decommissioned in 2012 in favour of a new University of Melbourne-hosted HPC computer ('edward'; http://its.unimelb.edu.au/research/hpc) and the data migrated to new central storage environments. The DaRIS instance that was running on 'soma' now operates on a Virtual Machine running in the NeCTAR research cloud and is also tightly integrated with 'edward'. All the pre-existing procedural functionality was retained, but the platform now operates in a much more sustainable environment.

The DaRIS software ( http://its.unimelb.edu.au/research/data_management) continues to be used and developed. There are a number of new deployments in addition to the original described above (still operated by the Neuroinformatics team at the Centre for Neuroscience Research). For example, it is utilised by nodes of the National Imaging Facility (e.g. Florey Institute of Neuroscience and Mental Health at Parkville, Monash Biomedical Imaging, Centre for Advanced Imaging at the University of Queensland) as well as by the Melbourne Neuropsychiatry Centre and the Melbourne Brain Centre Imaging Unit at Parkville. Additional funding for this expansion has been received through the National Collaborative Research Infrastructure Strategy and the Australian Research Council. DaRIS is also a component of the NeCTAR Characterisation Virtual Laboratory.

Additionally, the software, Mediaflux, upon which DaRIS is built, is being piloted very successfully as a generic platform for data management across the University of Melbourne. A goal is to establish an operational University of Melbourne-wide informatics platform with generic and domain-specific (e.g. Neuroscience) components.

Finally, with Australia recently joining the International Neuroinformatics Coordinating Facility (INCF), there is a new opportunity to include INCF tools in the Neuroinformatics capability, as well as to update existing informatics tools (e.g. DaRIS) to inter-operate with them (e.g. the INCF's data-sharing space).