ORNL, IBM pooling talents to examine diseases

August 22, 2001

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., YORKTOWN HEIGHTS, N.Y., - Massive computing power and biology are coming together in a big way through a cooperative research and development agreement announced today by IBM and the Department of Energy's Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

At the heart of the agreement is IBM's Blue Gene research project, which combines advanced protein science with IBM's next-generation cellular architecture supercomputer design. Unlike today's computers, cellular servers will run on chips containing "cells," which are processors that contain memory and communications circuits. Cellular architecture will help scale computer performance from teraflops (1 trillion calculations per second) to petaflops (1,000 trillion calculations per second).

"The world of supercomputing is rapidly changing and we need to develop approaches to solving computational problems that are able to scale to thousands of processors and at the same time be tolerant of failures of some of these processors," said Ed Oliver, associate director in DOE's Office of Advanced Scientific Computing Research.

Super computing power has major implications for studying climate, advancing the field of nanotechnology, and gaining a better understanding of gene sequences and how folding of proteins relates to diseases.

"Proteins control all processes occurring in the cells of the body," said Joe Jasinski, manager, Computational Biology Center for IBM Research. "These proteins are made up of a vast array of different combinations of amino acids that fold and bend into very complex three-dimensional shapes that determine the exact function of each protein.

"If the shape of these proteins changes because of some environmental, physical or biological factor, the protein may turn from being beneficial to one that causes specific diseases."

IBM and ORNL hope to use this enormous computing power to explore numerous other areas as well. This effort merely represents the beginning of what is expected to be a long relationship.

"Our collaboration with Oak Ridge National Laboratory is vital to IBM's work to extend the boundaries for applications of large-scale computing, focusing on the combination of IBM and ORNL's deep scientific capabilities," said David McQueeney, vice president of Emerging Business for IBM Research. "Together we have built a common roadmap for an ambitious multi-year evolution of the simulation and modeling of many complex systems. We are confident that we will break new ground in several domains, including life sciences."

Because the project is a collaboration of ORNL's Life Sciences and Computer Science and Mathematics divisions and IBM, it draws from a sizeable pool of resources. The project also provides ORNL with new challenges.

"The complexity of the protein folding problem, nanoscale science and climate dynamics will require computational resources at a scale not yet achieved by any scientific application," said Thomas Zacharia, director of ORNL's Computer Science and Mathematics Division. "This is an exciting next step in ORNL's history of evaluating new computational architectures and pushing the computational science envelope."

Indeed, before it is possible to solve problems in biology, climate and nanotechnology, scientists have to devise methods to run applications that use tens of thousands of processors in the Blue Gene supercomputer. Each processor forms a cell with memory, communication and input/output built in. This approach departs from past designs and offers a glimpse of what's to come in high-performance computing.
Funding for the CRADA is being provided by DOE and IBM. ORNL is a DOE multiprogram facility operated by UT-Battelle. IBM Research is the world's largest information technology research organization with more than 3,000 scientists and engineers at eight labs in six countries.

IBM is a registered trademark of International Business Machines Corp. For more information on IBM research, visit http://www.research.ibm.com

NOTES TO EDITORS: If you would prefer to receive your press releases by e-mail, please send your e-mail address to news@ornl.gov. You may read other press releases from Oak Ridge National Laboratory or learn more about the lab if you have access to the Internet. You can find our information on the World Wide Web at http://www.ornl.gov/news

DOE/Oak Ridge National Laboratory

Related Proteins Articles from Brightsurf:

New understanding of how proteins operate
A ground-breaking discovery by Centenary Institute scientists has provided new understanding as to the nature of proteins and how they exist and operate in the human body.

Finding a handle to bag the right proteins
A method that lights up tags attached to selected proteins can help to purify the proteins from a mixed protein pool.

Designing vaccines from artificial proteins
EPFL scientists have developed a new computational approach to create artificial proteins, which showed promising results in vivo as functional vaccines.

New method to monitor Alzheimer's proteins
IBS-CINAP research team has reported a new method to identify the aggregation state of amyloid beta (Aβ) proteins in solution.

Composing new proteins with artificial intelligence
Scientists have long studied how to improve proteins or design new ones.

Hero proteins are here to save other proteins
Researchers at the University of Tokyo have discovered a new group of proteins, remarkable for their unusual shape and abilities to protect against protein clumps associated with neurodegenerative diseases in lab experiments.

Designer proteins
David Baker, Professor of Biochemistry at the University of Washington to speak at the AAAS 2020 session, 'Synthetic Biology: Digital Design of Living Systems.' Prof.

Gone fishin' -- for proteins
Casting lines into human cells to snag proteins, a team of Montreal researchers has solved a 20-year-old mystery of cell biology.

Coupled proteins
Researchers from Heidelberg University and Sendai University in Japan used new biotechnological methods to study how human cells react to and further process external signals.

Understanding the power of honey through its proteins
Honey is a culinary staple that can be found in kitchens around the world.

Read More: Proteins News and Proteins Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.