From the Director: RENCI responds to the COVID-19 crisis

The past few weeks have presented unique challenges to how we work, how we enjoy ourselves, and how we live our everyday lives. We are all worried about the uncertainties and about how this will affect us and our loved ones in the coming weeks. 

That being said, I am proud to work at RENCI and UNC-Chapel Hill, and blessed to be confronting the current challenges in a region where we are so fortunate to have skilled personnel and resources to bring to bear.

We can gather data and compute. We can volunteer. We can serve. We can encourage each other. We can broadcast. With relatively limited risk through working remotely, we can use our brains, our team spirit, our good will, our tools, and our machines to do science and serve.

Working closely with partner research institutions and the private sector, RENCI is adapting and extending its existing capabilities to accelerate COVID-19 response and research efforts. We are determined to do our part in supporting critical research, and we have already begun to do so by:

  • Utilizing Biomedical Data Translator projects such as ICEES and ROBOKOP to safely share de-identified patient data and validate proposed drug targets.
  • Creating a data science environment that will provide a notebook computing interface.
  • Developing a collection of COVID-19 data using analytics tools.

As our nation does all it can to be healthy, cautious, and productive, RENCI employees will continue to do what we do best – pursue data-driven discoveries that lead to better health and a safer environment.

Dr. Stan Ahalt is the Director of the Renaissance Computing Institute (RENCI) at UNC-Chapel Hill. As Director, he leads a team of research scientists, software and network engineers, data science specialists, and visualization experts who work closely with faculty research teams at UNC, Duke, and NC State as well as with partners across the country.