Overview of the NSG Portal:
The Neuroscience Gateway (NSG) portal facilitates access and use of National Science Foundation (NSF) High Performance Computing (HPC) resources by neuroscientists. Computational modeling of cells and networks has become an essential part of neuroscience research, and investigators are using models to address problems of ever increasing complexity, e.g. large scale network models and optimization or exploration of high dimensional parameter spaces. The NSG will catalyze such research by lowering or eliminating the administrative and technical barriers that currently make it difficult for investigators to use HPC resources. It will offer free computer time to neuroscientists acquired via the supercomputer time allocation process managed by the Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) Resource Allocation Committee (XRAC). The portal provides access to the popular computational neuroscience tools installed on various HPC resources. It also provides a community mailing list for neuroscientists to collaborate and share ideas.
NSG can be accessed through a simple web portal or programmatically using RESTful services. The NSG provides an administratively and technologically streamlined environment for uploading models, specifying HPC job parameters, querying running job status, receiving job completion notices, and storing and retrieving output data. The NSG transparently distributes user's jobs to appropriate XSEDE HPC resources.
The NSG team will collaborate with developers of neural simulation software to optimally install, test, and benchmark these applications on HPC machines, and allow developers to test new versions before release. This project will have a transformative impact by enabling access by members of the computational neuroscience community to HPC resources for research and instruction involving compute-intensive simulations (typically large neural networks). The NSG will enable students and researchers, who lack access to HPC resources and are thus at a significant disadvantage compared to very few who have it, by removing the barriers for progress for many including historically underrepresented groups.
Computational modeling offers opportunities for students and researchers at institutions with limited resources for wet lab or experimental infrastructure to participate in leading edge science. Projects such as this, which facilitate access to HPC resources, democratize participation in science by mitigating the financial barriers to research infrastructure.