Informatics Systems Research


ISI's Informatics Systems Research Division pursues a broad research agenda focused on creating new types of sociotechnical systems that enable and accelerate discovery in domains of high societal impact.

Launched in 2008, ISRD takes a holistic, systems oriented approach, working in areas from basic network services architectures, data management abstractions, computer security, user interfaces, human factors, and domain specific algorithms.  We specialize in highly collaborative, user driven research, in which we evaluate our research in the context of operational, high-impact domain science. 

Undergirding the Grid

In earlier work, we developed Grid computing infrastructure to support the creation and operation of “virtual organizations” as a foundation for collaboration and discovery. This work focused on understanding methods for sharing computing and storage infrastructure across distributed resource providers and collaborators.

The resulting methods played a role in two Nobel prizes (e.g. all the data analysis for discovering the Higgs boson was performed on a global Grid infrastructure) and the recent discovery of gravity waves took place on a data grid.

Toward Biomedical Breakthroughs

More recently, ISRD has focused on biomedical applications.  Our current collaborations cover a broad range of applications from basic science, to clinical use cases spanning molecular biology, basic neuroscience, neuroimaging, stem cell research, and craniofacial dysmorphia.

Our researchers work closely with ISI’s highly regarded artificial intelligence, networking, and distributed systems experts, as well as with two of USC’s nationally ranked Viterbi School of Engineering units: the Daniel J. Epstein Department of Industrial and Systems Engineering, and the Department of Computer Science.

A major current initiative, the first direct study of living synapses in the intact brain, is an interdisciplinary effort with USC's Keck School of Medicine, Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, and its Viterbi School of Engineering. In addition, ISRD plays a central role in four international consortiums as well as one of the eight National Institute of Health funded centers of excellence for Big Data.