Johns Hopkins and Answer ALS offer new hope to ALS patients

Business situation

A group of 1,000 ALS patients are participating in Answer ALS, a revolutionary medical research program founded and run by Johns Hopkins and the Robert Packard Centre for ALS Research. Answer ALS is bringing together global research centres, leading technology companies, world-class researchers and ALS patients for one goal: leverage cloud computing, machine learning, an enormous amount of patient data, and a powerful, interactive data infrastructure with the ability to harness artificial intelligence, all to help determine what causes ALS and identify potential treatments.

The team needed a Microsoft Azure-based data query engine that could process research queries in hours instead of days or weeks, one capable of integrating the artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities that will be added in later phases. Data security throughout was paramount.


Once the Answer ALS consortium selected Azure as the backbone for the data research infrastructure, Azure expert Avanade was selected to lead phase one of the project. We began with a design-led workshop that focused largely on deciding the functionality required. Once objectives were prioritised, a roadmap was developed. Using agile methodology, we built a powerful, secure data query engine that allows researchers to use tools they are already familiar with, one that is ready by design to expand as the project continues to build momentum.

“If we truly want to have an impact on seemingly unsolvable diseases like ALS, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s and dozens of other diseases, large-scale coordinated and collaborative efforts are the best way to rapidly move forward.”

Steve Gleason Former NFL player, head of Team Gleason and ALS patient


A few key advantages of the new collaboration system include:

  • Participating researchers are able to query a database of thousands of petabytes of new ALS-specific information.
  • For quicker insights, queries can now return results within minutes or hours vs. weeks.
  • Researchers hope the new insights will serve as the foundation for new clinical trials, which may lead to the development of successful treatment protocols.
  • The project is already producing results. Sharing the Answer ALS data with a research group based in the Netherlands, scientists have identified a gene linked to ALS.

Discover how Avanade’s cloud transformation solutions can modernise your business infrastructure.
Client Stories

Johns Hopkins and Answer ALS offer new hope to ALS patients

Avanade’s Azure-based data query system returns answers in hours versus weeks.


Answer ALS: New template for future medical research?

Avanade spoke with Emily Baxi, Ph.D., executive director of the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research
Read the full interview.


Answer ALS and Avanade harness technology to accelerate largest-ever ALS research program

Medical research centers, technology companies and 1,000 ALS patients unite in global collaborative search for new treatment protocols.


Collaboration, cutting-edge data technology keys to tackling ALS

The ALS Answers research team is now more equipped to uncover insights and discover successful drugs for patients with solutions by Avanade.

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