David J. Topham, M.S., Ph.D., is the Vice Provost and Executive Director for The Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation (HSCCI), which facilitates biomedical researchers’ access to high performance computing resources. He is also the Co-Director of the New York Influenza Center of Excellence, one of only six national influenza centers supported by the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Topham conducts his research at the David H. Smith Center for Vaccine Biology and Immunology at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
PI: What do you value in your colleagues in information technology?
My colleagues in IT are essential to successfully compete for grants and to get the work done in our funded projects. The information and data management requirements are becoming increasingly difficult to solve, especially for the individual investigator. The scope of our research data and computing needs are being expanded through a combination of new technologies that generate large data sets and requirements from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and others to share the data with the public. Our IT staff has become as much a part of our research as the laboratory and clinical staff.
PI: What are some of the challenges you face with IT that are unique to your work?
As I mentioned, the increasing need for data and information management, storage, and computational horsepower has created new challenges for us that we did not face five or so years ago.
PI: Can you cite some past success you have had with IT or highlight some current projects you are excited about?
In addition to our day-to-day needs for computing, we have benefitted from the symposia and industry relations brought about by University IT. It is also helping us with migrating our local servers into the Data Center, which will reduce our direct costs and management needs. Finally, IT has been instrumental in the successful operation of our IBM Blue Gene supercomputer, which has opened doors into new research and funding opportunities.
PI: What future IT opportunities are you looking forward to?
We look forward to the continued growth of the HSCCI and our work together to better solve our informatics needs in basic and clinical research.
PI: Do you have any suggestions for the community during the flu season this year?
If you haven’t been vaccinated yet, there is still time. Also, pay attention to hygiene – aside from vaccination, hand washing is the single best thing you can do to reduce the spread of flu – and prevent yourself from getting infected!