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Biostatistics and Medical Informatics
Research Resources - Biomedical Computing Group

UW Madison, Students and their laptops
UW Madison students, studying with laptops
The mission of the Biomedical Computing Group is to provide, at low cost, the essential informatics components of the multidisciplinary, collaborative research pursued by members of the Department of Biostatistics and Medical Informatics and the University of Wisconsin Comprehensive Cancer Center (UWCCC). This entails providing technical leadership, creating innovative solutions to computational problems, providing a high quality, state of the art computing environment and responsibility for funding both the investment needed to create this environment and the cost of operation. Pursuit of this mission is as multifaceted and complex as the research it seeks to promote and support, and is reflected in the evolution and current composition of the BCG, the breadth of its activities and the structure of its funding model. The BCG has had remarkable success over the last decade in executing this mission and providing value to the department, UWCCC and larger Medical School community at minimum cost.


Currently the BCG is staffed by approximately 20 computer scientists, software engineers and other I/T professionals.

Central Services Section: Responsible for the computational infrastructure and specialized computational environments used by Biostatistics and Medical Informatics faculty and students, SDAC, UWCCC members as well as several other groups within the School of Medicine and Public Health.

Database Engineering Section: Develops and maintains Oracle database applications primarily for the acquisition, management and analysis of data in clinical trials and other kinds of clinical studies.

Technical Support Section: Provides end user support and a help line for Unix, PC and Mac platforms. In addition, technical support provides direct technical support, troubleshooting, hardware and software support to approximately 250 users and several laboratories.

Network Security: The group take responsibility for security, various networks with the School of Medicine and Public Health.

The BCG maintains servers and applications used for computational science, management and analysis of clinical, genomic and other biological data. A number of multiprocessor, high speed Unix compute servers provide for closely coupled parallel execution on a single machine. This is augmented by managing the cluster with the Condor system implemented by the UW Computer Science Department. This system provides a platform for distributing jobs across machines or for parallel execution of programs that can be decomposed into concurrent, loosely coupled modules.

The core of this environment is an integrated, fault tolerant network of state-of-the-art Sun UNIX and Microsoft NT computers with over 65 Sun and NT servers running Sun UNIX (Solaris 2.6), Linux and Microsoft Windows NT operating systems. Reliable high performance servers provide database facilities and host instances of Oracle. Over 1.5 Terabytes of data can be stored on a fault-tolerant subsystem of disk arrays, with redundant power supplies and cooling elements. The arrays are monitored and an on-call team member is automatically paged in the event of failure.

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