Decentralized storage solutions are gaining increasing recognition within the scientific community and among non-Web3 clients, with the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Australia choosing Filecoin as its preferred method for storing its extensive research data. This decision marks a significant step in leveraging blockchain-based storage solutions for scientific purposes.
Established in 1994 and inaugurated by the late Princess Diana, the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute boasts over 230 scientists and 23 laboratories dedicated to advancing medical research.
The transition to Filecoin as the institute’s storage solution officially commenced in September 2022, with the migration of publicly available research data commencing in November 2022. According to Todd Ryman, the institute’s IT director, the primary motivation behind abandoning “on-premises storage systems” and cloud-based alternatives in favor of Filecoin was the substantial cost savings it offered.
Ryman highlighted that the institute no longer incurs “excessive fees from cloud providers if we need to restore any of this data.” Given the substantial volume of data generated, particularly by the SyncroPatch machine, a medical instrument used for studying cardiovascular cells, the cost-effectiveness of Filecoin was a decisive factor.
The SyncroPatch machine generates an astounding 20,000 data points per day, resulting in terabytes of data on a weekly basis. Ryman emphasized that Filecoin’s decentralized nature and its strong focus on data integrity align perfectly with the institute’s requirements.
He stated, “The decentralized architecture enhances data redundancy and durability, reducing the risk of data loss due to hardware failures or other localized incidents. Filecoin’s use of blockchain technology ensures that data integrity is maintained, making it suitable for preserving valuable research findings.”
Stefaan Vervaet, the head of network growth at Protocol Labs, a key contributor to Filecoin, provided insights into the Filecoin network’s structure. It comprises 3,500 storage provider nodes, commonly referred to as validators, which cryptographically verify on-chain data daily. Importantly, the data, including that of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute, is not stored on-chain; instead, “the hash that represents the data is stored on-chain.”
This approach means that data on the network is not identified by traditional means such as an IP address, name, or file type. The hash serves as a unique identifier, akin to a user’s “unique handle,” allowing access to the desired content stored on Distributed Storage Solutions (DSS) or any other storage provider within the Filecoin network.
Filecoin’s capabilities extend beyond secure storage. Ryman emphasized the platform’s potential for facilitating data sharing among researchers, a critical aspect of medical science. “With Filecoin’s distributed storage and retrieval mechanisms, we can easily provide any researchers with access to specific datasets without the need for large-scale data transfers,” he noted. This streamlined approach enhances collaboration and expedites research outcomes while upholding the privacy and security of datasets.
The Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute joins a growing list of reputable organizations and institutions utilizing Filecoin for their data storage needs. Notable clients include the University of California, Berkeley, the University of Utah, and prominent Web3 entities such as Solana and OpenSea.
Filecoin, with nearly 1,700 clients onboard, has successfully onboarded a staggering 1.5 exbibytes (EiB) of data. To put this into perspective, 1.5 EiB is equivalent to 1.7 billion gigabytes, roughly akin to the storage capacity of 13.5 million base model iPhones. This milestone underscores the platform’s capacity and scalability in addressing the data storage demands of diverse sectors, including scientific research.