Researchers Turn Big Data Problems Into Advanced Biology And Drug Discoveries

SGI (NASDAQ:SGI), the trusted leader in technical computing, today announced that researchers in the compute-intensive field of biotechnology research are continuing to make breakthrough progress with their selection of the SGI® UV™ high performance computing (HPC) system. SGI UV is the leading scalable shared memory architecture in the industry today, and is being deployed to tackle many of the world’s most difficult and complex compute challenges. The Center for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology, University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and The Genome Analysis Centre (TGAC) in the UK are two examples.

Researchers at the Center for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at UIC are working on the development of new therapeutics focused on the treatment of infectious diseases, critical with the advent of new resistant bacterial strains and ineffective treatments for many diseases. The discovery of novel chemical compounds that form the basis for the development of molecular scaffolds of new antimicrobials is a daunting task. One promising approach is the use of diverse chemical compound libraries—thousands of chemical compounds—that are tested against unique targets to find effective inhibitors of bacterial growth. The approach is promising, but can be extremely time-consuming, expensive and resource-intensive.

A parallel approach is the virtual screening of chemical compounds against these unique targets since their three-dimensional structures have been determined. After a virtual library of molecules is screened, they are ranked. Literally millions of molecules can be screened in this fashion, and used to generate a smaller library of molecules for testing. This virtual—or in silico—screening requires the use of hundreds of processors working in parallel to screen millions of compounds in a timely manner.

“Researchers at the Center have been using SGI IRIX® OS-based clusters for the past decade, and have now migrated to an SGI UV high performance compute solution powered by large arrays of Intel® Xeon® series processors and NVIDIA® Tesla® series GPUs,” said Michael E. Johnson, professor and director emeritus at the Center for Pharmaceutical Biotechnology at UIC. “These clusters provide computing flexibility in managing both serial and parallel calculations, and the forward compatibility of SGI systems have allowed us to seamlessly evolve and expand our computing power through the years and keep up with the increasing complexity of the problems we need to address.”

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