IBM, VLSCI scientists to use Blue Gene supercomputer to study human disease

IBM ( IBM) today announced a Research collaboratory in Melbourne, Australia, where scientists from the Victorian Life Sciences Computational Initiative (VLSCI) at the University of Melbourne and the IBM Research Computational Biology Center will use high performance computing – including IBM's Blue Gene supercomputer – to study human disease.

The collaboratory – where IBM Researchers co-locate with a university, government, or commercial partner and share skills, assets, and resources to achieve a common research goal – will enable collaboration between the 10,000 world-class life sciences and medical researchers in the Melbourne area, and IBM's computational biology experts, who are renowned for applying high performance computing to biological discoveries.

The collaboration is dedicated to dramatic improvements in human health through technology innovation in medical diagnostics, drug discovery and drug design, underpinned by a deep understanding of disease. Scientists from VLSCI and IBM Research will work to accelerate the translation of our fundamental understanding of biology to improvements in medical care and health outcomes, with projects such as:

  • Medical Imaging and Neuroscience: high performance computers are used to analyze images from the devices such as Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI), Positron Emission Topography (PET) and the synchrotron.
  • Clinical Genomics: the identification of combinations of genes implicated in disease and the ability to predict susceptibility to disease and treatment outcome from an individual's genome and medical history.
  • Structural Biology: understanding the structure and shape of biological macromolecules, fundamental to pharmaceutical discovery.
  • Integrated Systems Biology: understanding and modeling the dynamic behavior of complex systems, from genes, proteins, cells, tissues and organs to organisms.

"Melbourne prides itself as one of the world's leading regions for life sciences and medical research," said John Brumby, Premier of Victoria.  "By ensuring that institutions and researchers have ready access to high performance computing and computational biology expertise, the collaboratory will enable Australia, and in particular, the State of Victoria to retain and further enhance its leadership and bring to bear new discoveries that can positively impact the health of people around the world.

"At IBM, we believe that giving our researchers the opportunity to go outside of the walls of our labs and collaborate with other institutions will further the reach and impact of our research," said Tilak Agerwala, Vice President, IBM Research. "As the largest IBM Research collaboration in life sciences, the Victorian Life Sciences Computational Initiative holds great potential for driving new breakthroughs in the understanding of human disease and translating that knowledge into improved medical care, and gives IBM Research the opportunity to expand the impact of our Computational Biology Center."

IBM's Blue Gene/P supercomputer will serve as the high performance computing foundation for much of the VLSCI and collaboratory's work. Blue Gene's speed and scalability have enabled business and science to address a wide range of complex problems and make more informed decisions -- not just in the life sciences, but also in astronomy, climate, energy and many other areas.

The collaboratory will be fully operational in 2010 and will be located on the campus of the University of Melbourne.  It is being established jointly by the University of Melbourne and IBM through the VLSCI, which was made possible through the Victorian State Government in Australia. In addition to the University of Melbourne, the collaboratory will also work with researchers from leading institutions participating in the VLSCI.

This is the sixth IBM collaboratory. Other IBM collaboratories worldwide are located in Dublin, Ireland; Shenyang, China; Shanghai, China; Taipei, Taiwan and Hyderbad, India.    



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