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IBM supercomputer part of University Health Network cancer research centre


Toronto, ON – IBM Canada and the University Health Network are creating a new research centre that will use a supercomputer to help discover treatments for ovarian, lung, colon and prostate cancer.

The Life Sciences Discovery Centre, located within the University Health Network’s facility at MaRS in Toronto, will focus on analyzing protein interactions, a crucial component in understanding cancer biology, disease progression and treatment.

The Life Sciences Discovery Centre received an IBM eServer p595 supercomputer along with IBM WebSphere and DB2 data management software valued at more than $2.5 million under IBM’s Shared University Grant program. The grant also enables researchers to work with leading computational biologists at IBM’s TJ Watson Research Lab in New York.

“One of the biggest challenges with cancer research is being able to sort through large volumes of data, identify cancer-specific signals, and understand how tumours grow,” says Dr Igor Jurisica, University Health Network and a professor at the University of Toronto. “The new Life Sciences Discovery Centre will speed our ability to analyze data in a systematic way, which will eventually allow us to detect cancer before symptoms are visible, essentially developing approaches for early diagnosis.”

“This research center is a remarkable intersection between computer science and medicine,” says Don Aldridge, IBM Canada’s general manager for higher education, research and life sciences. “By applying supercomputing to advanced cancer research, the University Health Network will be able to develop new treatments and understand which work best for individual patients, based on their unique genetic make-up.”

IBM says it has contributed more than $3.5 million in technology to cancer research at the University Health Network since 2000 through programs such as Shared University Research grants.