Merck Sharp and Dohme purchases SGI technology to discover new drugs against Alzheimer's

Theale 16 August 2000SGI has secured a GBP800.000 contract to supply technology and consultancy services to one of the world's largest pharmaceutical companies, Merck Sharp and Dohme. SGI has been working alongside Phoenix, a major integrator of data centre solutions, in order to supply an SGI Origin 2000 server which will be used to develop new drugs to combat disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. The server will help to support Merck's main United Kingdom research facility at the Neuroscience Research Centre, one of the world's largest dedicated neuroscience research laboratories.


The SGI server was integrated with an IBM mass storage and back-up system to form the backbone of Merck's computer system. The technology will be used for molecular simulation and modelling to enable major new drug discoveries. The advanced system is fully automated and requires no human intervention. The SGI/Phoenix team helped Merck by selecting and integrating the solution which best matched the needs of the organisation, and will continue to provide a valuable system support service.

Simon Craw, associate director of IT at Merck, stated: "We chose SGI for its consultancy skills and ability to select and implement technology that could fulfil our business needs. We use the research system to develop important new drugs for disorders such as strokes, depression and chronic pain, and need accurate solutions as quickly as possible. SGI's Origin 2000 has already greatly increased productivity in the drug discovery pipeline by reducing the time taken to process new research findings."

SGI's project with Merck was completed within just six weeks of the initial order. "The short length of time it took SGI to deliver the project was impressive, meaning our new system was up and running quickly with minimum disruption to operations. An additional quality that SGI brought to the project was its unrivalled knowledge of implementing complex IT projects within the pharmaceutical sector", as Mr. Craw stated.

Stavros L. Taraviras, solutions manager for chemical and pharmaceutical industries, Europe at SGI commented that SGI understands the challenges which the pharmaceutical industry faces today. "Our strategy consists of providing customers with the total solutions needed to gain competitive advantages in this complex and demanding environment. SGI partners with pharmaceutical and biomedical research organisations to enable them to bring new drugs to market more quickly and efficiently. We are delighted by this endorsement of SGI's expertise in this area by one of the world's leading pharmaceutical companies."

Dave Coughlin, sales manager at Phoenix added: "Phoenix and SGI worked as a team to ensure that the solution met Merck's requirements and that the product was installed and deployed as quickly as possible. SGI's willingness to contribute to a team approach and the technical excellence its consultants brought to this project has proven invaluable and we look forward to working with them on future projects."

Phoenix is a leading integrator of data centre solutions, providing networking requirements to mission critical servers and supercomputers. The company has partnerships with the world's leading IT manufacturers, and provides a complete consultancy and integration service of high-end multi-platform products. SGI provides a broad range of high-performance computing and advanced graphics solutions which enable customers to understand and conquer their toughest computing problems. The SGI company is located in Mountain View in California, USA, with European headquarters based in Theale, Reading.

You can read more on the use of supercomputing in the struggle against Alzheimer's disease in this issue's VMW article IBM's ASCI White supercomputing power to aid quest for Alzheimer's cure at Boston University.

Leslie Versweyveld

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