University Hospital Basel

Pioneering research hospital turns big data into an asset for fighting cancer and other complex diseases

Universitatsspital Basel

By building a universal medical archive with Scality RING, the institution is using big data to advance research in personalized, life-changing therapies

Imagine a world in which every individual receives medical care and treatment based on their unique genetic makeup. Instead of fighting diseases like cancer with broad-spectrum approaches, doctors could attack the disease as it is manifested in each person using precisely targeted therapies to maximize positive outcomes and minimize negative side effects.

This is the world that the University Hospital Basel envisions and strives for daily.

One of five university hospitals in Switzerland, the University Hospital Basel (in German, Universitätsspital Basel, abbreviated USB) has been pioneering advanced medical procedures for more than 150 years. Now it's taking on cancer, applying technologies such as artificial intelligence to massive amounts of data to help researchers develop personalized immunotherapy treatments.

  • “The university hospital is committed to putting humans and their needs at the heart of everything we do, from disease prevention to palliative care. Today, data is an absolutely vital part of our important work.”

     

    Markus Müller, head of data center management, University Hospital Basel
The challenge

For clinicians to make faster, more accurate diagnoses and to help researchers develop life-changing therapies for treating cancer and other diseases, they must be provided with access to massive amounts of data collected over long periods of time that can span decades, even lifetimes. The big data that must be managed and protected ranges from personal health data and genetic sequences to radiological images and even video footage of surgical procedures. And it all must be securely archived for access at any point in the future.

 For Markus Müller, head of University Hospital Basel’s data center management, the challenge was how to manage a variety of different storage and archival systems based on each type of data and the application generating it, such as computer tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). Finding the needed information, and then retrieving it from the respective system was difficult and time-consuming, slowing researchers and hampering doctors in diagnosing complex cases. 

Recognizing that doctors and researchers want access to all data on every individual from pre-natal to the end of their lives, Müller needed to take a fresh look at the university hospital’s storage and archiving infrastructure. The traditional file systems that his organization had long relied on were no longer adequate. Those systems had volume limits of 300 GB and the amount of data coming from departments like pathology and other laboratories had exploded to hundreds of terabytes in recent years.

Müller saw an opportunity to resolve this situation by building a central medical archive as a private cloud that is universally accessible across all areas of the university hospital.

  • “We have data from radiology and raw genetic data, as well as tissue samples for histopathology, which are digitized by robots. We needed a solution to securely archive big data of all types yet make it universally accessible.”

    MARKUS MÜLLER, HEAD OF DATA CENTER MANAGEMENT, UNIVERSITY HOSPITAL BASEL
The outcome

After careful evaluation of various proposed options, Müller and his team selected a private cloud storage solution offered by Scality and Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE). USB has since deployed Scality RING, running on HPE Apollo 4510 systems, in three data centers across the university hospital campus.

The Scality RING solution provides the foundation for the universal medical archive Müller envisioned, with the ability to store, protect, and secure all types of data. Moreover, it can scale virtually without limits by simply adding storage nodes to the universal archive.

  • “Our customers within the university hospital emphasize that we cannot delete their data and must keep it for 10, 20 years or longer. The advantage of Scality RING is that when we reach current capacity, the system can simply be expanded online.”

    Markus Müller, head of data center management, University Hospital Basel

Scality RING also brings Müller and his team another capability never before possible for the university hospital: integration with public clouds for seamless data movement between Scality RING and the public cloud, which will make data sharing and collaborating with other research organizations far easier.

With more and more data collected every day, University Hospital Basel is well equipped to shape the future of personalized medicine and improve the health and wellness of people around the world. The Scality solution ensures that data is preserved and easily accessible to support that mission.

  • HPE and Scality have taken the problem of archiving data away from me; they’ve eliminated that worry. And anything I don’t have to worry about is a good thing.”

    Markus Müller, head of data center management, University Hospital Basel

Stay in the know about what's up in storage