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New Lab Exploring Use of Supercomputing Applications for Life Sciences Planned In Belgium

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Collaborators from the computing, electronic, and biotechnology industries, as well as academia, have teamed up to launch a new life science laboratory aimed at creating supercomputer-based solutions in the life sciences and biotechnology realms.

Announced on Monday, the new facility called ExaScience Life Lab will be based on the Imec campus in Leuven, Belgium. Imec, which specializes in nano-electronic research, along with Intel, Janssen Pharmaceutica, and five Flemish universities are collaborating to create the lab.

The five universities are the University of Antwerp, University of Ghent, University of Leuven, University of Hasselt, and Vrije University Brussels.

Tasked with increasing research in the life sciences, ExaScience Life Lab will focus on two applications, Imec said. First, it will investigate the use of supercomputers to accelerate the processing of entire genome sequences, which currently takes about 48 hours.

"[W]ith the expected explosion of genome data becoming available in the coming years, it is crucial to improve the efficiency of the computing process," Imec said.

Secondly, the lab will apply computer simulations for the life sciences. Using such an approach with cells and tissues, rather than wet-lab testing, will result in time- and cost-savings, Imec added.

"Once operational, the ExaScience Life Lab will be our European center of excellence for high performance computing in the life sciences," Intel lab manager Luc Provoost said in a statement. "The intended collaboration with Janssen Pharmaceuticals should enable us to build even more powerful supercomputers."

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