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Melbourne life sciences research given IBM superboost

Melbourne life sciences research given IBM superboost

11 February 2010

Melbourne will soon be home to the world’s most powerful supercomputer dedicated to life sciences research, under a new partnership between computing giant IBM and the University of Melbourne.

It is the first time IBM has established a ‘collaboratory’ in life sciences anywhere in the world, building a Blue Gene supercomputer more powerful than the one currently used by NASA in California, in conjunction with the Victorian Life Sciences Computational Initiative (VLSCI).

In an agreement set to significantly strengthen Victoria’s life science research capabilities, the supercomputer will be capable of one trillion calculations per second when it ramps up to maximum working capacity by 2012.

The partnership will make the VLSCI, established in 2008 by the Victorian Government and the University of Melbourne, one of the top five life sciences computing facilities in the world by 2013.

Researchers will be able to process genes to identify risk of cancer and treatment, model brain functions to treat brain disorders and disease, and model and predict the threats of infectious disease.

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis said the supercomputer partnership with IBM would "strengthen the research capabilities of Victoria’s life sciences researchers and expand of their capacity to carry out world-class life sciences research right here in Melbourne”.

Victorian Premier John Brumby said the project would create 30 new high-value jobs in Melbourne's world-class life sciences precinct, Parkville.

Professor Peter Rathjen, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) at the University of Melbourne said the supercomputer will allow the VLSCI to revolutionise drug discovery to diseases such as HIV-AIDS, hepatitis C, breast cancer, prostate cancer and epilepsy.

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