Web-based collaboration links labs to supercomputers

mputational tools, data record-keeping capabilities, communications and document storage, all of which harness the entire research and training process. With BioCoRE, users with supercomputer accounts gain seamless access to major National Science Foundation centers, such as NCSA at Illinois and PSC at Pittsburgh.

Scientists communicate by way of a control panel, similar to instant-messaging software, and can access a complete archive to review discussions they may have missed. Thus, team members in different locations can carry on conversations, participate in workshops, and share ideas interactively, said Robert Brunner, a BioCoRE developer who is completing his doctorate in electrical engineering.

"There is no lag time to slow down creativity," he said. By accessing a protein databank, for example, collaborators can jointly manipulate 3-D models of selected proteins. Using JMV, a newly developed Java Molecular Viewer program, each new view can be immediately saved and placed back on the server, Brunner said. Other team members can then quickly view the images - even those members who don't have JMV installed on their computers.

BioCoRE is organized around projects and/or training topics, and for security, confidentiality and privacy reasons BioCoRE members can only see their own projects, said developer Kirby Vandivort, a computer scientist and nuclear engineer. "If you are not in a particular project, you don't know it exists."

BioCoRE has advanced dramatically since its initial release in March 2000. Earlier this year, the BioCoRE server software became available for download, allowing scientists to set up their own personal servers.

BioCoRE supports in-house and third-party tools. The Theoretical Biophysics Group's other major software products -- the visualization program VMD and the molecular dynamics simulation program NAMD -- are easily launched from within BioCoRE. More information is available on the Web at

Contact: Jim Barlow
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

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