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Division of Health Cyberinfrastructure

SDSC’s cyberinfrastructure provides a solid foundation for healthcare projects at UC San Diego, in the San Diego region, throughout California, nationally and beyond, as evidenced by activities and grant awards that include the Center as lead or co-collaborator.

Learn more about...
- GovCloud
- MIG Data Engine
- Metabolomics
- Key Personnel


The Value of Cloud Computing

Cloud computing provides a way for people to scalably store and manage their data in a secure online environment. New projects can be deployed and managed without a large investment of time, cost, or infrastructure. Cloud resources can be tailored to the individual project’s computing needs while leveraging economies-of-scale and shared expertise.

SDSC GovCloud Overview

The GovCloud infrastructure was established as a service of SDSC’s Health Cyberinfrastructure Division as a means to provide secure data storage and computing to academic and government partners. GovCloud is both HIPAA- and FISMA-compliant and was developed in accordance with hundreds of NIST controls governing system access, information control, and management processes.

GovCloud currently supports National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) initiatives and complies with the specific requirements of each agency. GovCloud offers a flexible and scalable compute and storage platform for a variety of research and data projects requiring a secure, access-controlled environment.

How GovCloud Benefits Researchers

GovCloud was built to support researchers and their projects. SDSC Data Center programmers and staff understand the requirements of research computing, and how the needs of professors and investigators may differ from those of the typical end users of commercial cloud platforms. GovCloud offers the ability to partner on a project basis, improving economies-of-scale based on shared infrastructure, processes, and documentation, and providing expertise in supporting HIPAA, FISMA, and more agile environments. GovCloud provides researchers a competitive advantage in their proposals, in the execution of their awards, and in the ongoing enhancement of their capabilities.

Adding further value, the GovCloud platform is hosted within the infrastructure of UC San Diego, one of the world’s leading research universities. Academic research is at the forefront of GovCloud’s robust store and compute capabilities, and also at the core of the platform’s central purpose.

Customizable Project Support

The GovCloud cyberinfrastructure offers numerous IT services that are customizable to meet specific project requirements, including:

  • Automated backups/archiving including offsite copies
  • Secure remote-access services
  • Anti-virus tools
  • Authentication and authorization (including two-factor, Active Directory, etc.)
  • Operating system patching services
  • Configuration management
  • Change-management processes
  • Trouble ticket system
  • Centralized logging and monitoring of security-related activities and computing resources
  • Data upload tools to facilitate high-speed file transfers
  • Configurable storage
  • Intrusion detection systems
  • Vulnerability scanners
  • Web proxy services to protect system from inadvertent “drive-by” infections
  • Domain Name System (DNS) services


Medicaid abuse has been cited by the New York Times as a “$44.5 billion target for the unscrupulous and the opportunistic,” and the Federal Bureau of Investigation reports that fraud accounts for as much as 10 percent of all U.S. healthcare expenditures each year. In partnership with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), SDSC’s Division of Health Cyberinfrastructure has developed a 100TB+ data warehouse holding provider, claims, and referential data from all state and territorial Medicaid agencies, permitting rich data mining and analysis by CMS staff, Medicaid Integrity Contractors, the Office of the Inspector General, the Department of Justice, and other users.

SDSC’s MIG Data Engine serves as the data repository for the national fraud-detection activities of the Medicaid Integrity Group, an arm of CMS’s Center for Program Integrity. This cyberinfrastructure platform was developed in response to the passage of Section 6034 of the Deficit Reduction Act of 2005, which authorized and required CMS to investigate Medicaid fraud and abuse.

The FISMA- and HIPAA-compliant MIG Data Engine applies sophisticated analytics to CMS claims data to identify patterns characteristic of overpayments, enabling auditors to conduct a state-by-state review of the actions of individuals or entities furnishing medical products or services and claiming reimbursement through the Medicaid program.

The MIG Data Engine permits users to analyze, mine, and interact with CMS data and provides a suite of data analysis, data mining, business intelligence, workflow, and reporting applications, plus a variety of security and middleware tools scalable to user needs.

SDSC is working in collaboration with Chickasaw Nation Industries (CNI), a tribally owned 8a company, to develop, deploy, document, operate, maintain, and enhance the MIG Data Engine.

With additional time and state-level collaboration, it is expected that the fraud detection made possible by the MIG Data Engine could be extended to not only identify CMS abuse, but to also help prevent it from occurring in the first place.


With the support of SDSC’s Division of Health Cyberinfrastructure, UC San Diego is leading the way in bringing new technologies to the emerging field of biomedical research known as metabolomics.

The NIH Common Fund is set to invest more than $50 million over the next five years to advance academic research into the study of metabolites, small molecules that are found in cells and conserved across species. Analysis of a person’s metabolome -- a unique profile made up of all the metabolites in the body at a given time -- can provide clinicians with a chemical “snapshot” of the person’s health, including details on nutrition and disease.

The UCSD Metabolomics Workbench was built and deployed in SDSC GovCloud with the broad goal of coordinating, managing, and storing metabolomics research data from across the U.S. and the globe. This $6 million NIH Common Fund initiative provides a cloud computing infrastructure and workbench for data, query, and analysis interfaces, plus robust, scalable tools for the interactive analysis and integration of metabolomics data.

Led by principal investigator Dr. Shankar Subramaniam, the Workbench platform is housed at SDSC and supports investigators at three Regional Comprehensive Metabolomics Research Cores -- at the University of Michigan, UC Davis, and RTI International -- as they seek new ways to incorporate metabolomics technologies into their research and translate metabolome-based discoveries to the clinic. The Workbench serves as a coordinating hub for the three research cores so that they can function together as a consortium, managing and presenting metabolomics data from the cores for the benefit of the broader biomedical research community and, eventually, patients in the clinic.

The Workbench’s capabilities are manifold, and include providing:

  • Metabolomics measurements from mass spectrometry, NMR spectrometry, and liquid and gas chromatography
  • Integration between new and existing metabolomics databases
  • Protocols for sample analysis and meta data
  • Tutorials on an assortment of data-management issues (e.g., privacy and dissemination, sample collection protocols, new “omics” technologies)
  • Updates on advances in metabolomics research, with links to published papers, upcoming events, and additional resources

Hosted in SDSC GovCloud, the UCSD Metabolomics Workbench serves as the public face for the NIH Common Fund’s new metabolomics program.


Dallas Thornton
SDSC Division Director, Health Cyberinfrastructure

Dallas Thornton

Dallas leads SDSC’s Health IT division, focusing on delivering scale-out computing, data management, expertise, and support to partners at UC San Diego, other Universities, and state and federal sponsors. As the principal investigator, he directs UC San Diego’s participation in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ MIG Data Engine program, which combats Medicaid fraud, waste, and abuse through the integration and analysis of healthcare claims, provider, beneficiary, and referential data. In 2011, Dallas led the effort to architect and deploy SDSC Cloud, the largest and highest-performance known academic cloud storage repository, including over 5 petabytes of disk at inception. Building on that success, his team deployed SDSC GovCloud, offering FISMA- and HIPAA- compliant cloud compute and storage resources in support of partners and federal sponsors. Before founding the Division of Health Cyberinfrastructure, Dallas served as SDSC’s Division Director for Cyberinfrastructure Services.

Dallas is also the vice president of San Diego Technology, Inc., a HUBZone-certified, woman-owned, service disabled veteran owned-small business (SDVOSB) that offers expertise and solutions to government in areas such as data mining, cybersecurity, health informatics, high-performance computing, technology research and development, IT, systems engineering, C4I, program management, and acquisition support. The company offers a vehicle to expertise for government agencies with export control and citizenship requirements that cannot be accommodated directly within the University.

Dallas is in the process of completing a PhD in Information Systems & Change Management from Universiteit Twente. He previously earned an MEng, MBA, and BEng, all from Vanderbilt University.

Sandeep Chandra
Program Manager, SDSC Division of Health Cyberinfrastructure

Sandeep Chandra

In his role as program manager, Sandeep is responsible for the vision, management, and implementation of concepts and methodologies for the division’s technology platforms.

Alongside division director Dallas Thornton, Sandeep co-leads UC San Diego’s participation in the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ MIG Data Engine program. He also provides leadership for the planning, development, implementation, operations, and maintenance of SDSC GovCloud, and manages the day-to-activities of division staff and operations. Sandeep is actively engaged in supporting the division’s outreach activities to expand the center's healthcare IT portfolio through partnerships with other universities and federal agencies including the NIH, CMS, and NSF. Previously, Sandeep served as a technical project manager and co-principal investigator in SDSC’s Advanced Cyberinfrastructure Development Group.

Sandeep holds aN MS in Computer Science from North Carolina State University, as well as a BS in Computer Science from Osmania University, India.

Winston Armstrong
SDSC Chief Information Security Officer (CISO)

In his role as SDSC’s Chief Information Security Officer, Winston is responsible for the security of a diverse computing environment that includes both health information systems and high-performance computing systems. He leads the SDSC Security Group, which monitors and investigates security incidents related to SDSC, provides guidance for security practices and policies, and makes recommendations for protecting SDSC computing resources.

Prior to working at SDSC, Winston held a similar position at the San Diego Data Processing Corporation (SDDPC), where he was responsible for the Security of the SDDPC information technology services provided to the City of San Diego. Before working at SDDPC, Winston served in various engineering and information technology roles within the aerospace industry, the most recent being at Lockheed Martin Corporation, where he was responsible for the computer systems used by the Atlas and Titan launch vehicle programs.

Winston holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from UC Santa Barbara.