Big Data refers to the study of large, diverse, complex, longitudinal and/or distributed data sets generated by scientists and others involved in the information revolution - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Big_data
Core facilities are at the forefront of generating and analyzing large, biomedical data sets. The challenge is to integrate these sets across facilities (genomics/proteomics, imaging, flow cytometry), patient records (blood chemistry, drug treatments), genetic backgrounds (family history, gene profiling) and communities (survey data, epidemiological records) to evaluate susceptibility, diagnosis and treatment of diseases (clinical outcomes). There are a myriad of problems that must be overcome to integrate this data, and it will require the cooperation of teams of scientists. The ABRF is ideally positioned to lead efforts to find solutions by facilitating communication across disciplines, implementing quality control measures, and recommending standards for data storage and analyses.
Editors of leading journals have devoted entire issues to Big Data, e.g., Nature (Sept. 2008) - http://www.nature.com/news/specials/bigdata/index.html
and Research Trends (Sept. 2012) - http://www.researchtrends.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/09/Research_Trends_Issue30.pdf
In 2012, the NIH created the Data and Informatics Working Group to provide the NIH Director with expert advice on the management, integration, and analysis of large biomedical research data sets - http://acd.od.nih.gov/diwg.htm
In 2012, the NIH and NSF announced a major interagency initiative aimed at addressing issues associated with storage, transmission, visualization and analysis of large data sets - http://www.nlm.nih.gov/ep/bigdata.html
In 2013, the U.S. Office of Science and Technology Policy weighed in on the importance of Big Data by creating the Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) program to facilitate use, develop methods and enhance training of scientists involved in Big Data - http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2013/04/23/big-data-big-deal-biomedical-research
In 2013, President Obama announced funding for the BRAIN Initiative whose goal is to map the activity of every neuron in the human brain with the long-term goal of understanding human cognition - http://www.nih.gov/science/brain/
In short, the Big Data problem is changing the scientific landscape of biomedical research in profound and unexpected ways. Come to Albuquerque and hear about these initiatives and experience the frontier of science - oh, and the beautiful frontier scenery!