University and IBM Scientists Gather to Explore Collaboration

June 27, 2012

A group of scientists from IBM and the University of Rochester will gather on Friday, June 29 to take the next step in an emerging research partnership designed to harness the power of high performance computing to solve complex health problems. The Health Sciences Research Summit will involve more than 50 scientists from both institutions.

“Some of the greatest challenges in medicine require computational resources powerful enough to sift through and analyze mountains of data and create sophisticated computer models and simulations,” said David Topham, Ph.D., a microbiologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center and director of the Health Sciences Center for Computational Innovation (HSCCI). “This is an opportunity to bring together University and IBM scientists to explore the potential horizons of this partnership and identify specific joint research projects in which our scientists can collaborate.”

Earlier this year, the University announced that it would be one of the first academic institutions in the nation to receive IBM’s next generation supercomputer, the Blue Gene/Q. The supercomputer – which is one of most powerful and efficient computer systems in the world – will be installed in a renovated space in the University’s data center next month.  The Blue Gene/Q was acquired with the support of $5 million in funding from New York State via the Finger Lakes Regional Economic Development Council. This is the first step in a proposed $100 million initiative that would make the University of Rochester one of the leading centers for high performance medical research.   

The HSCCI was created 2008 when IBM made an initial gift of the previous version of the system, the Blue Gene/P, to the University. Since that time, researchers have been able to parlay access to high performance computing into $84 million worth of external research funding, including a $12 million grant to establish a Center for Biodefense Immune Modeling and a $35 million contract to create the Respiratory Pathogens Research Center. In addition, several joint University-IBM research programs are being explored, including a collaboration to create a computer-generated simulation of the heart in an effort to better understand which drugs may cause lethal disruptions of the heart’s electrical activity.

 The morning session (8:00 to 11:45 AM) of the conference in the Helen Wood Hall Auditorium is open to students, faculty, and staff. An agenda for the conference can be seen here.

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