Brain disease research, particle physics meet in the middle (ware)

ARLINGTON, Va.The study of Alzheimers disease and the analysis of particle collisions may not appear to have much in common, but behind the scenes, middleware being developed with support from the National Science Foundation (NSF) is helping groups of researchers in neuroscience, physics and other fields to apply the power of grid-based computational resources.

Spanning 14 universities and 22 research groups, the growing Biomedical Informatics Research Network (BIRN) is establishing the cyberinfrastructure, or integrated information technology configuration, needed to facilitate health care research for large-scale data sharing and analysis. The ability to share and compare massive data sets such as MRI brain scans or high-resolution electron microscopy images is essential to participants research into Alzheimer's disease, depression, schizophrenia, multiple sclerosis and other disorders.

With the participating research labs connected by the Internet2 high-performance network, the BIRN cyberinfrastructure uses software from the NSF Middleware Initiative (NMI) to harness grid-based services and resources for the demanding computational tasks of data mining, analysis and visualization. The BIRN is sponsored by the National Center for Research Resources at the National Institutes of Health.

The BIRN has great promise to provide a collaborative working environment that promotes the growth of interdisciplinary science as well as an advanced biomedical cyberinfrastructure, said BIRN Coordinating Center Director Mark Ellisman. The NMI middleware layer is essential to providing many of the underlying mechanisms critical to achieving this integrated environment.

By emphasizing open-source solutions that simplify resource sharing, NMI is making it easier for scientists, engineers and educators to work with colleagues on a worldwide scale through high-speed networks. The integrated tools from NMI facilitate collaborations across organizatio

Contact: David Hart
National Science Foundation

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