Lab Canada

High-performance computer part of $1M grant to cancer research

Toronto, ON – IBM has awarded a grant of a high-performance computer to researchers at the Ontario Cancer Institute to help them understand how various proteins interact with each other – a crucial step in understanding cancer progression, potentially impacting the process of discovering which drugs will be most effective in the treatment of cancer.

The grant, valued at $1M, is made possible by IBM’s shared university research program. The award was made to Dr Igor Jurisica, a scientist with the Ontario Cancer Institute/Princess Margaret Hospital, which is part of the University Health Network. Dr Jurisica’s team is using the IBM eServer pSeries 690 high-performance computer to warehouse, analyze, visualize and distribute human protein-protein interactions.

“One of the biggest barriers in our field is the sheer volume of heterogeneous data that researchers are trying to work with,” says Dr Jurisica. “This new system has significantly increased our research capabilities.”

Not only will the new technology allow Dr Jurisica and his team to model protein-to-protein interactions, it also allows them to integrate and analyze data stored in a variety of local and international data warehouses. This enables integrated computational biology and shortens research time.

One of the first projects to be undertaken with the new system is called the “Online Predicted Human Interaction Database” (OPHID). OPHID is an online database of known and predicted human protein-protein interactions that may be accessed via the Internet. OPHID can be accessed online at