International HealthGrid Conference attendees examine the challenges of improving medical research and health care using Grid technology

Chicago 03 June 2008The Sixth International HealthGrid Conference opened with a warm welcome from Robert Zimmer, president, University of Chicago, being held at the University's Gleacher Center. "You're doing important work that is having and will continue to have a positive effect on health care."

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The HealthGrid 2008 conference is the premier meeting on the transformation of medical research, education and care through the application of Grid technologies. Grid technology allows many computers to work together to better understand the interactions between a patient and treatment. HealthGrid is dedicated to enhancing biomedical research and health care delivery by creating an open collaborative virtual community and communicating collective knowledge.

Yannick Legré, president, HealthGrid Initiative, told the more than 120 people assembled, who represented 16 countries: "This is the first time that we held this meeting outside of Europe. We are on the cutting edge of a global Grid community."

The HealthGrid is a worldwide initiative, launched by the European Commission in 2001, to incorporate Grid technology for sharing medical research and data, tools, and expertise. In the United States, specialized Grids exist to share information about specific diseases, like cancer and HIV, using distributed computing. When completed, the global HealthGrid would make it possible for any health care professional anywhere in the world to access all medical and biological information. For example, when human DNA is fully mapped, that information would become available instantly through the HealthGrid.

Dan Reed, an American computer and computational scientist, discussed the role of eScience and biomedical informatics in his keynote presentation. Brig. Gen. Richard Ursone, U.S. Army, retired, and currently a managing director, Bearing Point Health Care Division, gave the afternoon keynote. Throughout the day, a variety of technical papers were presented on the topics of advancing virtual communities, public health informatics, knowledge management and decision support, and there was a roundtable discussion about government eScience and cyber infrastructure.

The conference finished with a keynote presentation about the Physiome Project applications in health care and a keynote about GridAsia. There was also an industry roundtable discussion about eScience innovation and several panels featuring selected papers. Ian Foster, director of the Computation Institute at the University of Chicago and Argonne National Laboratory provided the final keynote address and memorial via the Professor Jean-Claude Healy Distinguished Lecture.

Details about the HealthGrid meeting can be found at the HealthGrid 2008 website.


Leslie Versweyveld

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