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News 1999

July 8, 1999

The Hospital for Sick Children to host worldwide genome database on IBM Supercomputer

IBM Technology to Speed Pace of Research 100x

The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids) today announced that it will use sophisticated technology developed by IBM to host and manage the worldwide Genome Database (GDB), the foremost public database for human genome information.

The new computer equipment and software, donated under IBM's Shared University Research program, is expected to speed the pace of the hospital's genetic research by 100 times.

Research institutions, such as SickKids, are making significant contributions to the various global initiatives working to isolate disease-causing genes. An established player in this field, scientists at SickKids have identified many disease-causing genes, including the gene for cystic fibrosis in 1989.

The GDB will run on an IBM RS/6000 SP, using IBM's DB2 Universal Database. The hospital also plans to use powerful bioinformatics software, developed by researchers at IBM, for advanced analysis of DNA and protein sequence identification. Bioinformatics is the application of information systems and strategies to science.

The hospital recently took over management of the GDB, which supports the Human Genome Project, the global scientific effort to map and sequence man's complete genetic material. The GDB is accessed by thousands of researchers around the world. Founded in 1989, the GDB previously was managed by Johns Hopkins University.

"As an international leader in genetic research, SickKids has a very personal stake in taking over the management of GDB," said Jamie Cuticchia, PhD, head of SickKids' bioinformatics program. "SickKids will work aggressively to learn from and grow GDB's rich content. With IBM technology, we expect to take genomics research to new levels."

The decision to use the IBM RS/6000 SP, a highly scaleable supercomputer, was based on its unique ability to manage complex information as well as IBM's expertise in the emerging field of "deep computing." The deep computing tools developed by IBM will be essential in helping the hospital solve complex problems and analyze the vast amounts of data in the GDB.

"Today's announcement demonstrates IBM's growing commitment to the massively complicated area of genomics," said Sharon Nunes, PhD, director of the IBM Computational Biology Center at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center in New York. "Technology is advancing medical research by combining incredible processing power with application-specific software. In this case, IBM will help SickKids to accelerate its work in identifying the genetic causes of disease."

Since it began, the GDB has doubled in size annually as the world's scientists submit data daily. These data include information about the location of disease genes, genetic markers, gene differences, as well as all known human gene mutations, which play a critical role in diagnostics.

Affiliated with the University of Toronto, The Hospital for Sick Children is the largest paediatric centre in North America and a world class referral centre in the forefront of paediatric medicine, research and teaching.

For more information, please contact:

Public Affairs
The Hospital for Sick Children
555 University Avenue
Suite 1742, Public Affairs, First floor Atrium
Toronto, ON
M5G 1X8
Phone: 416-813-5058
Fax: 416-813-5328

For questions or comments contact the TCAG Manager,

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