AWS for Industries

Bio-IT World 2022—From Migration to Innovation: The Journey to What’s Possible

At AWS, we often talk about the Art of What’s Possible. What would it look like to use machine learning and quantum compute to run advance protein folding algorithms? What would be possible if researchers could use high-performance compute to analyze and make Cryo-EM data accessible to the wider community? And the question that motivates us—what would be possible if personalized care was accessible to all?

At the 20th anniversary of Bio-IT World, the Art of What’s Possible was on full display. A prime example of this was the work presented by the team at AstraZeneca around its novel Augmented Drug Design program built on AWS, which received a Bio-IT World Innovative Practice Award.

While innovation at the cutting-edge is what inspires us, it’s not something our customers stumble upon. Rather, it’s the result of a strategic cloud journey and commitment to modernization. While it’s a journey that never ends—there is a definitive start point and stepping stones along the way.

Over the last decade of helping life sciences organizations migrate to the cloud, we’ve developed a four-stage journey to help our customers build a secure, compliant, and scalable foundation for innovation. At Bio-IT World, AWS joined with leaders from Thermo Fisher Scientific, AstraZeneca, TetraScience, and Vertex Pharmaceuticals to dive deeper into this journey, and explore the four stages of the migration to innovation journey:

  1. Migrate
  2. Secure & Comply
  3. Unify
  4. Innovate


Our journey starts with migration—the concept of migrating your desired legacy data, workloads, and applications to the cloud, establishing your foundation for innovation. Whether a 145-year-old company like Eli Lilly or a startup like Relay Therapeutics,  developing a strategic approach to migration is the foundation for future innovation.

Over the years, one of the most common considerations we’ve heard during the migration phase is around establishing continuity with legacy data and instruments. To share how Thermo Fisher is helping its customers seamlessly migrate to the cloud and get more from their legacy equipment, Bill Goodman, Senior Director of Product Management for Digital Science at Thermo Fisher Scientific, joined us at Bio-IT World.

Looking back as far as 2015 when Thermo Fisher spoke at the AWS Summit in Chicago, the company has been focused on helping its customers migrate to and harness the benefits of the cloud to create a unified, data-driven environment for discovery. Since then, Thermo Fisher has worked diligently to create and optimize Thermo Fisher Connect to help life sciences organizations easily migrate their applications, and data to the cloud and harness the power, scalability, and cost savings of the cloud to get more from their scientific data.

“By creating a connected ecosystem between our on-premises instruments and our cloud environment, our customers can seamlessly migrate their applications and data for a more unified and data-rich experience,” said Goodman. “Cloud migration to us represents a new era of connectivity—one that puts our customers at the center of their data and enhances the capabilities and functionality of our instruments.” Bill Goodman, Senior Director, Product Management for Digital Science at Thermo Fisher Scientific

A deeper dive into the migrate step can be found in our Getting Started with AWS for Life Sciences eBook.

Secure & Comply

Safeguarding sensitive data and maintaining continuous GxP compliance is “job zero” for life sciences companies of all sizes and disciplines, and the essential next step of our cloud journey.

As noted by Lita Sands, AWS Head Solutions Life Sciences, over the last 5 years the conversation around cloud security and compliance has dramatically shifted from “is it possible to run GxP workloads on the cloud” to “of course, it’s expected.” This is due in large part to the work done by innovative companies like Moderna, and the progress made by AstraZeneca.

At Bio-IT World, Anna Berg Åsberg, Vice President of R&D IT at AstraZeneca, talked to how the company approaches security and compliance from a cultural perspective. Building on her presentation at re:Invent 2021, which focused on building a secure foundation on AWS to deliver life-changing medicines, Anna’s Bio-IT World presentation focused on the need to make data FAIR—findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable—while maintaining robust access controls and compliance with local guidelines.

“At AstraZeneca, building an amazing AI solution was only half of the battle. We needed people to trust it, use it. And that meant we needed to make data FAIR—findable, accessible, interoperable, and reusable—while maintaining global compliance and access controls in real-time.” Anna Berg Åsberg, Vice President of R&D IT at AstraZeneca

To learn more about how companies like AstraZeneca migrate existing and build new GxP workloads on AWS, explore our latest whitepaper, Navigating HCLS Regulatory and Compliance Requirements on AWS.

Once a secure and compliant framework has been established, data unification can begin.


Across the life sciences value chain, data often becomes trapped in data silos—hindering visibility. There are many factors that contribute to this, ranging from constraints with on-premises data storage through maintaining a static architecture. This is the basis of our third step, focused on breaking down data silos to allow for greater data visibility and mining.

Mike Tarselli, PhD, chief scientific officer at TetraScience, is on a mission to help life sciences organizations unlock the full value of their scientific data. As noted in his presentation at Bio-IT World, the old world of on-premise silos and point-to-point integrations result in a fragmented data environment, hindering productivity and innovation.

To solve this problem, Tetra set out to reimagine the pharma data landscape, moving from siloed data to a new-world approach that provides liquid, actionable scientific data to support scientific outcomes. The result—an open, configurable data cloud designed to unify R&D and manufacturing data.

Tetra Scientific Data Cloud makes it simpler for life sciences organizations to bring together data from their instruments, third party collaborators, and from across their organization. Once data has been united, Tetra facilitates the integration of metadata, verification, and the ability to harmonize content for downstream machine learning applications. With the Tetra Partner Network, multiple instrument vendors contribute to a common ecosystem, increased deployment speed and data interoperability.

“By unifying and harmonizing scientific data, life sciences organizations can unlock inherent data value, which accelerates and improves scientific outcomes and time-to-insight. Our Cloud-first platform, built on AWS, enables customers to use their scientific data in any way they wish, at any time they wish, in an open, FAIR, and compliant manner.” Mike Tarselli, PhD, CSO at TetraScience

Leading us into the “fun part”—Innovation.


Once data and workflows have been migrated, secured, and unified, the innovation journey can begin. At Bio-IT World, Mike Tirozzi, chief information and data officer at Vertex, talked to the output of the company’s transformation journey, and what’s possible from investing in the migration to innovation journey.

“With the foundation we’ve built on AWS, we can continue to innovate and push the envelope on behalf of our patients. We can focus more on data and important scientific problems and continue to deliver the next generation of scientific data technology.” – Mike Tirozzi, CI&DO at Vertex

Vertex has innovated at the intersection of technology and the life sciences, creating a next-generation platform for data technology leveraging AWS for speed and efficiency. Leveraging this novel platform, Vertex is able to push the envelope on biological imaging, digital manufacturing, and quality control.

To shorten the time to generate 3D structures to identify drug candidates, Vertex consolidated Cryo-EM data processing and computational analysis into a single, scalable cloud environment on AWS, facilitating global access to a next-gen imaging platform. To expand commercial manufacturing, small molecule pipeline growth, and enable expansion into cell and gene therapies, Vertex is developing digital solutions that deliver automated, scaled C&G therapies and deliver predictive insights at-scale. And finally, to shorten searches among systems for quality control, troubleshooting, and accurate hypotheses generation, the team built a platform for scientists to compare processed and raw data for multiple research compounds in and across experiments.

While the last step on our cloud migration journey, as noted by our friends at Vertex, innovation is an ongoing journey in and of itself.

The common thread—culture of innovation

Although each of our customers spoke to a step in the journey, the one theme that persisted was the need for a culture of innovation. From the early stages of developing a cloud strategy to innovating with new AWS services, fostering a culture of innovation and collaboration between researchers and cloud personnel was quoted throughout many talks as the recipe for keeping innovation alive and harnessing the true value of AWS.

To learn more about starting your cloud migration journey, download our Getting Started with AWS for Life Sciences eBook.

Stephanie Black

Stephanie Black

Stephanie Black is the Worldwide Head of Life Sciences and Genomics Marketing at Amazon Web Services (AWS). Specialized at the intersection of life sciences and cloud technology, Stephanie has spent the last decade helping leading life sciences organizations bring new products to market and expand their market reach. She holds a graduate certificate in genetics from Stanford University, in addition to dual undergraduate degrees in business and strategic marketing.