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Supercomputers: Speeding up medical discovery

October 18, 2010

At the Arizona Science Center, experts will explain how a powerful high-speed data-processing link based at ASU promises speedier progress in the battle against debilitating diseases

Large supercomputers and high- bandwidth networking are enabling researchers to accelerate efforts to discover more effective treatments for people afflicted by diseases such as diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease.
One of the fastest computer data-processing links dedicated to aid such biomedical research has been implemented between laboratories at the Translational Genomics Research Institute (TGen) in Phoenix and the facilities of the High Performance Computing Initiative (HPCI) of the Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering.
TGen medical researchers and an ASU computer engineering expert will describe how it all works and answer questions about the system at Biotech Talk from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. Nov. 10 at the Arizona Science Center.
HPCI research scientist Gil Speyer will be joined by James Lowey, director of TGen’s High Performance Biocomputing Center, and Amol Tembe, leader of the Collaborative Bioinformatics Center at TGen.
Using a supercomputer called Saguaro 2, ASU computer engineers are moving voluminous amounts of information to TGen researchers at as much as 100 times faster than previous systems.
The new system is capable of quickly processing of trillions of bits of DNA information. It will allow TGen scientists to accelerate the analysis of next-generation whole genome sequences — readouts of the entire three billion chemical letters in an individual’s DNA.
That information can be used by medical specialists to develop treatment for people with debilitating diseases more effectively, and may move scientists more quickly along the path to discovering cures.
Admission to Biotech Talk is free. The Arizona Science Center is at 600 W. Washington Street in downtown Phoenix, at the corner of Washington and Seventh Street. The Light Rail line has a stop at Fifth Street and Washington.