The Cedars-Sinai supercomptuter - fed up to 2 Terabytes of molecular patient data per day - was ranked the 412th most powerful supercomputer in the world by TOP500, a technology ranking organisation that recently released its list. A supercomputer is an extremely powerful computer capable of manipulating massive amounts of data in a short period of time.
Cedars-Sinai is one of the few medical centres in the world both to have a supercomputer as well as to be recognized on the TOP500 list. It is also one of the only organisations to have a physician, David Agus, M.D., overseeing the supercomputer's research efforts. Dr. Agus is a prominent medical researcher specializing in cancer treatment and the development of new technologies for health care at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.
"It is truly remarkable that we have this kind of computing power here, and it's a sign of the changing times in medical research", Dr. Agus stated. "We are trying to develop predictive medicine, and we are passionate about using this technology to help patients quickly and appropriately."
"When a patient with advanced cancer is undergoing a specific treatment that isn't effective, there has been very little scientific data available to direct us to the next therapy to recommend - or any way to know whether that next option will result in a better outcome", he stated. "With the supercomputer, we are now trying to develop the ability to identify specific proteomic patterns in the blood of individual patients. This information helps us to better understand and foresee the course of disease for each patient, and to identify the outcome to a particular therapeutic intervention in advance. This individualized medical approach has tremendous potential to advance cancer treatment and outcomes."
The supercomputer, the Sun Microsystems Fire x2100 Cluster with 800 processors, was installed in late 2005 at Cedars-Sinai. Research is being funded by the National Cancer Institute and other philanthropic donors.
The TOP500 organisation is comprised of technology experts from the University of Mannheim, Germany, the University of Tennessee, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California. The TOP500 list, published twice a year in June and December, tracks the use of supercomputers at commercial, scientific and academic research institutions. To help determine the June 2006 rankings, TOP500 analysts reviewed supercomputer speeds, as well as the types of data they process. The TOP500 project was initiated in 1993 to provide a reliable basis for tracking and detecting trends in high-performance computing.
Cedars-Sinai Medical Center is one of the largest non-profit academic medical centres in the Western United States. For 18 consecutive years, it has been named Los Angeles' most preferred hospital for all health needs in an independent survey of area residents. Cedars-Sinai is internationally renowned for its diagnostic and treatment capabilities and its broad spectrum of programmes and services, as well as breakthroughs in biomedical research and superlative medical education. It ranks among the top 10 non-university hospitals in the nation for its research activities and was recently fully accredited by the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs Inc. (AAHRPP). More hospital news is available in the VMW June 2006 article New Surgical Simulation Lab gives hands-on experience to improve patient safety.