Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto to implement supercomputer for biological research

Toronto 18 July 2001The Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund and the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto are planning to expand the Ontario Centre for Genomic Computing (OCGC). Using a 192-processor SGI Origin 3800 system with 178 GB of memory and 2.7 TB of disk, that is slated to be scaled substantially over the next three years, the OCGC offers the world's largest publicly available computational supercomputer focused solely on biological research.


The recently installed upgrade represents a $25 million SGI deal with the hospital, which funded the acquisition in part through support from the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund. The OCGC enables world-class research in the area of genomics by providing scientists with a state-of-the-art computational platform in order to support current and catalyse future biological research in Ontario. Research scientists use the OCGC for biological and genomic research projects such as the discovery of new human disease genes, protein modelling and projects to map the human genome. The centre forms part of the Ontario Challenge Fund's $75 million investment in genomic research over the next five years.

"The Hospital for Sick Children already has a large genome centre that is dedicated to research. By being able to provide this service to independent scientists and researchers, we offer the opportunity to drive advancements and discoveries in biological research in Ontario", commented Jamie Cuticchia, head of the OCGC. "The Ontario Centre for Genomic Computing puts us on the map as a forward-thinking institution."

Acting as an application service provider (ASP), the OCGC offers independent research scientists with federal and provincial grants direct access to the computational platform via the Internet. A standard user allocation includes time and disk space to meet their computing needs. Once on the system, research scientists have access to a wide variety of applications and services, including international biological databases, bio-informatics training, and research applications such as BLAST, HT-BLAST, EMBOSS, TM-Finder, and Clustal W.

Since 1998, the Ontario Research and Development Challenge Fund has committed up to $250 million to 63 research projects which promote innovation, keep top researchers in the province, and create highly skilled jobs. Contributions by universities, research institutes, and corporate partners will mean an investment of more than $700 million in these projects.

Leslie Versweyveld

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