Deputy urges China to store own biomedical data

Chen Huizhi
Chinese biomedical data is mostly stored in centers hosted by foreign countries.
Chen Huizhi

Chinese biomedical data is mostly stored in  centers hosted by foreign countries and therefore could be at risk from hacking, a deputy to the National People’s Congress from Shanghai has warned.

Li Lin, a member of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and a researcher at the CAS Center for Excellence in Molecular Cell Science, said that while the US, Europe and Japan have bioinformatics centers with 200PB of data, the BIG Data Center of the Beijing Institute of Genomics of CAS, which is the leader of such centers in China, only has a storage capacity of under 10PB.

The same problem is reflected in the global research on the origin of the molecules of the COVID-19, Li said.

“The genomic data of COVID-19 from China was uploaded to the GISAID (Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data) which serves as the source of data for large-scale computing,” he said. “Also, Chinese scientists are dependent on software for gene and protein sequence analysis developed by foreigners.”

This, according to Li, affects the efficiency of data mining and the formation of knowledge for Chinese scientists.

Li advised that the central government embark on the integration of health data kept by research institutes, medical institutions, government agencies and various companies and the establishment of technical standards for such data to push for efficient collection and application of the data while intensifying research infrastructure innovation.

“There are a few health data platforms in China, but there is no unified and authoritative one such as the HealthData.gov of the US and the Data.gov.uk of the UK,” Li said.

He suggested that besides the rooftop national bioinformatics center, the government should establish regional data junctions at the Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei region, the Yangtze River Delta region and the Guangdong-Hong Kong-Macau Greater Bay Area.

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