How Ultra-high dimensional machine learning and serverless cloud architecture transforms life science research

Dr Denis Bauer1

1Csiro, North Ryde, Australia


Genomic data is outpacing traditional Big Data disciplines, producing more information than Astronomy, twitter, and YouTube combined. As such, Genomic research has leapfrogged to the forefront of Big Data and Cloud solutions using machine learning to generate insights from these unprecedented volumes of data. This talk showcases how researchers at CSIRO find disease genes responsible for ALS using VariantSpark, which is a custom machine learning implementation capable of dealing with ‘wide’ or ultra-high-dimensional data (80 million columns). Using this powerful technology in a novel cloud-based architecture powers a decision support framework for clinicians to find actionable genomic insights at a speed required for point-of-care applications. The talk also introduces GT-Scan, which we think of as the “search engine for the genome”. This web-service enables researchers to identify the optimal spot in the 3 billion letter-long genome to make alterations (CRISPR) that one day help cure or prevent diseases. GT-Scan was one of the first fully serverless applications, a space pitted to grow to a $8 Billion market as it allows complex architectures to instantaneous scale with high-demand while maintaining a zero cost downtime. The talk concludes by touching on how to evolve cloud architecture more efficiently through an hypothesis-driven approach to DevOps and how to keep data and functions secure in an serverless environment.


Dr Denis Bauer is an internationally recognised expert in machine learning, specifically in processing big genomic data to help unlock the secrets in human DNA. Her achievements include developing an open-source, artificial intelligence-based cloud-service that accelerates disease research and contributes to national and international initiatives for genomic medicine funded with over $500M.

As CSIRO’s transformational bioinformatics leader, Denis is frequently invited as a keynote at international medical and IT conferences including Amazon Web Services Summit 2018, International conference on Frontotemporal Dementia ‘18, Alibaba Infinity Singapore ’18 and Open Data Science Conference India ’18. Her transformational achievements have been featured in the international press, e.g. GenomeWeb, ZDNet, Computer World, CIO Magazine, the AWS Jeff Barr blog, and was listed as ComputerWeekly’s Top 10 IT stories of 2017.

Denis holds a BSc from Germany and PhD in Bioinformatics from the University of Queensland, and has completed postdoctoral research in both biological machine learning and high-throughput genetics. She has 33 peer-reviewed publications (14 as first or senior author), with over 1000 citations and an H-index 14.

Denis advocates for gender equality in IT, and is active on CSIRO’s Inclusion and Diversity committee.


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