Contact: Jeff Gluck
November 17, 1999
Contact: Phil Sneiderman
Johns Hopkins University
IBM Supercomputer at Johns Hopkins
Hunts for Clues to Heart and Brain Disease
Deep Computing Technology Helps Scientists Reduce
Research Time and Bring New Drugs to Market
BALTIMORE, November 17, 1999 . . . IBM today announced that Johns
Hopkins University will be installing an RS/6000 SP supercomputer
in its Center for Imaging
Science at the Whiting School of
Engineering to help find cures for diseases of the heart and
brain via image analysis.
Specifically, Johns Hopkins researchers will use the system to
try to discover why, so often, the brain degenerates with age,
and what causes illnesses including schizophrenia and dementia.
In addition, researchers hope to learn how heart attacks can be
avoided by testing different medication combinations on heart
models in pre-arrhythmia condition.
The researchers will use IBM's deep computing technologies to
construct three-dimensional, interactive computer models on the
RS/6000 SP describing the body's anatomical structure and
physiological behavior. These models span from the model of a
single gene up to the composite intricacies of organs such as the
heart and brain and will give researchers a better understanding
of the relationships between microscopic structures and organ
functions in both healthy and diseased brains and hearts.
By conducting this groundbreaking research, researchers will seek
to develop novel drugs and therapies to help doctors and patients
battle major organ disease. Using the RS/6000 SP, scientists
hope to cut research times and bring drug therapies to market
"The RS/6000 SP supercomputing technology will allow us to
analyze and access brain images from large numbers of individuals
in databases, which provides an opportunity to make precise
statistical statements about the onset of diseases related to the
human brain," say
Michael Miller, Director of the Center for
Imaging Science at Johns Hopkins. "This has not been possible
until now because of the sheer complexity of the analysis."
"Because of the human body's complexity and the volume of data
involved, computer modeling is now emerging as both a powerful
and necessary tool in understanding various cellular and tissue
Dr. Raimond Winslow, head of the
Computational Medicine and Biology, a branch of the Whitaker
Biomedical Engineering Institute. "With computerized
we are gaining understanding about the functions and processes of
the human heart, and saving lives by managing the threat of heart
attack and disease."
As part of the research program, Dr. Miller and his colleagues
will also have access to the IBM RS/6000 SP of the National
Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure at the San
Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), which is expected to be
capable of one teraflop performance by the end of the year. The
system will have more than 1,000 microprocessors and will be one
of the most powerful supercomputers in the world. Computer
modeling will be done at both facilities, with the more
computationally intensive work being done at SDSC.
Authorized researchers from around the world can access SDSC s
IBM supercomputer via the Internet. For example, scientists at
UCLA, Washington University and Cal Tech can generate tissue
samples, have them analyzed by algorithms from Johns Hopkins, and
distribute them nationwide through SDSC's Supercomputer
"SDSC's supercomputing power combined with our own RS/6000 SP
will allow us to pool the expertise and data of numerous
investigators and labs all around the world," said Miller.
"Such a collaborative effort, with its rapid information
exchange, can only help us make great strides against modern-day
"The RS/6000 SP is the foundation of high performance computing,"
said Rod Adkins, general manager, IBM RS/6000. "It provides the
world's leading research centers with the mathematical
algorithms, computing power, performance, speed and scalability
they need to tackle the most important scientific puzzles of our
time. IBM's high performance computing technology is
revolutionizing medical research."
Johns Hopkins' recently formed $34 million Whitaker Biomedical
Engineering Institute was created in part with a grant from the
Whitaker Foundation. Using computer imaging technology, some
researchers at the institute will bring together two inherently
different disciplines -- computer engineering and biological
research -- to advance medical science and the understanding of
human cellular and physiological functions and relationships.
SDSC is a research unit of the University of California at San
Diego and a national laboratory for computational science and
engineering. It is also the leading edge site of the National
Science Foundation's (NSF) National Partnership for Advanced
Computational Infrastructure, which was established to build the
environment for tomorrow's scientific discovery.
More information on Johns Hopkins is available at www.jhu.edu.
Whitaker Foundation information is available at
www.whitaker.org. SDSC information is available at www.sdsc.edu. IBM RS/6000
information can be found at
About IBM RS/6000
More than 850,000 IBM RS/6000 systems have been shipped to over
and technical customers around the world. The RS/6000 family of
computers feature IBM
RISC-based microprocessors and run the AIX, IBM's UNIX(c)
operating system. RS/6000
products range in size and capacity from workstations, workgroup
and enterprise servers, to
the RS/6000 SP supercomputer. From businesses deploying advanced
technologies to become
more efficient and profitable, to governments and universities
seeking to solve the grand
challenge problems of our time, RS/6000 computers support a wide
range of applications and
provide the reliability, availability and price/performance that
today's information technology
IBM, AIX, SP and RS/6000 are registered trademarks
or trademarks of the IBM corporation in the United States, other
countries, or both. UNIX is a registered trademark in the United
States and/or other countries licensed exclusively through X/Open
Company Limited. Other company, products and service names, which
may be denoted by a double asterisk (**) may be trademarks or
service marks of others.