Lab Canada

New supercomputer to speed cancer research

Toronto, ON – A new supercomputer – the second-most powerful in the country behind that of Environment Canada – recently launched at University Health Network will analyze millions of protein images in a search for more effective cancer treatments.

Led by Dr Igor Jurisica, with colleagues at Ontario Cancer Institute and Buffalo’s Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, the new supercomputer will provide automation, high-resolution imaging and sophisticated computer-based image classification to rapidly identify cancer-related protein structure.

The supercomputer runs 1,344 processor cores at 12.5 teraflops (trillion calculations per second) with 150TB of storage. In other words, the supercomputer performs more calculations in one second than every Canadian doing one calculation per second for four days without stopping.

“We need to better understand the specific function and interactions of proteins that cause cancer,” said Dr Jurisica. “This research will enable us to diagnose cancer earlier, before symptoms appear, to have the best chance of treating disease.”

As a member of the World Community Grid’s ‘Help Conquer Cancer’ project, the new OCI supercomputer will place important research data on the Grid for complex analysis that will enable faster and more detailed analyses. The new system is funded by grants from the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Ministry of Research and Innovation as well as by a donation from IBM.