HPC Center from Howard University showcases flash Cyber-infrastructure tools for breast cancer diagnosis

Washington D.C. 26 November 2004The Center for Applied High Performance Computing (CAHPC) based at Howard University in Washington D.C. left an impression at this year's Supercomputing 2004 Conference held in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The CAHPC showcased a number of research projects related to high performance computing and Cyber-infrastructure. But MammoData, a Web-accessible Grid tool for collaborative breast cancer diagnosis, made an immediate impression on spectators, due in part, to a flashy Web-accessible user interface.

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A far cry from a typical hum-drum research tool interface, MammoData's interface was created in Macromedia Flash, the same technology that drives many on-line interactive games and lengthy Web site intros, so the interface response is instantaneous.

With the tool, doctors, researchers, and educators have the ability to share cases, make annotations, file a diagnosis, request consults, or request assistance from expert systems, and request similar cases. The system is built on top of the Globus GT3 and utilizes SDSC's SRB for collections-based storage.

"Up until now much of our research under this project has been focused on the component technologies such as scanning, detection, segmentation, methods of annotation, and to building the database to hold hundreds of detailed cases of African American women", explained Mohamed Chouikha, the CAHPC Director, and Chair of the Howard University's Electrical and Computer Engineering Department.

"But now we are committed to assembling our best technologies into a federated system that can actually benefit someone. There are plenty of new problems to solve once you start building things", he added. Ultimately those problems will include HIPAA regulations, which restrict how patient data can be handled. Currently the special demo version of the system that was displayed contains only publicly available cases without the detailed patient data necessary to make use of much of the system's capabilities.

The CAHPC is an applications-focused university/industry partnership founded by Howard University and QuaTeams Inc., a small HubZone-certified small business. The mission of the centre is to advance the state of the art in real applications of High Performance Computing by fostering ethnically diverse, multi-disciplinary collaborations between research, education, and industry. The main focus areas are Homeland Security and Defense, Bio-informatics and Bio-engineering, and Education and Training.

SC2004 is a premier event for computing and networking at the very highest level, and it hosts researchers and industry exhibitors from all over the world, with approximately 175 industry exhibitors and 110 university, national laboratory, and government agency exhibitors attending the conference. The exhibits showcased the most advanced networking, clusters, Grids and ongoing research thrust areas.


Leslie Versweyveld

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