TORONTO -- The Hospital for Sick Children (HSC) today unveiled a state-of-the-art supercomputer that will allow scientists to dramatically accelerate research into diseases that affect children. The Hospital's new Silicon Graphics Origin 2000 is the most powerful supercomputer of its type in Canada and the largest in the world devoted exclusively to health and biological research in the public sector.
"The Origin 2000 supercomputer will be an extremely powerful tool for researchers not only at HSC but across the country," says Dr. Jamie Cuticchia, head of the Bioinformatics program at HSC. "It has also become a necessity, considering the vast amounts of information being generated by research programs such as the Human Genome Project, the international scientific effort to decode the complete genetic material of humans."
Dr. Cuticchia estimates that in this year alone, the world's researchers will produce more scientific data in the life sciences than has been previously generated in all of human history. The emerging science of bioinformatics -- the use of information technology to answer complex biological questions -- will help turn these large quantities of data into knowledge that can be used to improve diagnosis and treatment of childhood diseases.
A job that would take the fastest PC currently on the market three months to complete will take just a few minutes on the Origin 2000.
"We will use the Origin 2000 initially for research in two key areas: searching for similarities in gene sequences and developing three-dimensional models of human proteins, the products of genes," explains Dr. Cuticchia. "These two areas of research will generate fundamentally important information. Understanding the structure of a human protein can help us design more effective drugs. The ability to rapidly compare gene sequences can be applied in areas as diverse as gene discovery and diagnostics."