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Orion Multisystems, Gene Logic, Tripos, SGI, QB3, Genomatica, Jubilant


Seeing Life Science Traction for 'Cluster Workstation,' Orion Ships 96-Node System

Orion Multisystems said last week that it has begun shipping a 96-node version of the Cluster Workstation "personal supercomputer" that it first launched in 12-node form in September [BioInform 09-06-04].

The 96-node system fits under a desk, requires no special cooling equipment, and offers 230 Gflops peak performance and 9.6 TB of internal disk storage. The company claims that it is "the highest performance general-purpose computing platform that can be plugged into a standard power outlet."

According to company officials, the 12-node desktop Cluster Workstation has so far been successful in the life science market. Juli Nash Moultray, industry marketing director for Orion, told BioInform that the company has seen "tremendous interest" from the life science sector.

While declining to provide specific numbers for Orion's clients, she said that around 30 percent to 40 percent of the company's total customer base is in the life sciences right now.

On its website, Orion lists a number of specific applications that can run on its workstations, including Amber, Gamess, Gromacs, HMMer, iNquiry, gridMathematica, MatLab, mpiBlast, NCBI Blast, and NAMD.

The 12-node system is priced under $10,000, which falls easily within the budget of most research labs, so it's unclear how much demand there will be in the life science market for the 96-node system, which starts "in the $100,000 range," the company said.

Moultray noted that the larger system can be configured for 48 nodes, with a starting price of around $60,000 that will be "much more appealing" for smaller labs.

Gene Logic's Revenues Fall, But Genomics Unit Reports Quarterly Profit

Gene Logic last week said that its revenues for the quarter ended March 31 fell 2 percent to $19.7 million from $20.2 million in the first quarter of 2004.

Revenues from the company's genomics and toxicogenomics services, which include its informatics business, were down as well, to $13.2 million from $13.8 million in the year-ago period. Gene Logic said that this business unit was profitable for the quarter, however — with net income of $833,000 for the period compared to a net loss of $2.7 million in the first quarter of 2004.

This marks the first time that the company's genomics business has achieved quarterly profitability.

The company's total net loss for the quarter improved 25 percent to $4 million, or $0.13 per basic share, from $5 million, or $0.18 per basic share, in the prior-year period.

Gene Logic spent $1.5 million on R&D in the period, compared to $300,000 in the first quarter of last year.

As of March 31, Gene Logic had $64.7 million in cash and cash equivalents on hand.

Tripos Q1 Revenues Drop, Losses Widen

Tripos last week reported a slight drop in overall revenues for the quarter ended March 31, along with widening net losses.

The company posted total revenues of $15 million, compared with the previous year's first-quarter revenues of $15.5 million.

Despite its acquisition of Optive Research earlier this year, Tripos' informatics revenues declined 6.6 percent year-over-year, to $668,000 from $715,000.

The company's net loss for the first quarter of 2005 was $211,000, or $.02 per basic share, compared with a net loss of $25,000, or $0.0 per basic share, for the first quarter of 2004.

Tripos CEO John McAlister said that the company's results "were tempered by the effects of currency translations and increased interest expense primarily related to our acquisition of Optive Research, resulting in a net loss for the quarter."

Tripos spent $1.9 million on R&D during the quarter, down 32 percent from $2.8 million last year.

As of March 31, Tripos had $5.6 million in cash and cash equivalents.

SGI Lists AstraZeneca, U of Ulster Among Quarterly Altix Wins

SGI said that it signed two life science customers for its Altix high-performance computing products during the first quarter of 2005.

AstraZeneca's research team in Molndal, Sweden, purchased a 32-processor Altix system with 64 GB of memory. The company will use the system for applications as Gaussian, Amber, and Gamess, SGI said.

In addition, the Bioinformatics Research Group at the University of Ulster in Coleraine, Northern Ireland, purchased a 64-processor Altix 3000 system that it plans to use in gene regulation modeling, molecular science and engineering, analysis of gene expression and protein unfolding simulation data, and investigations into the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in Ireland.

QB3 Opts for Panasas Storage Cluster

Panasas said last week that all three universities that make up the California Institute for Quantitative Biomedical Research (QB3) will use the Panasas ActiveScale Storage Cluster.

QB3 comprises researchers at the Universities of California at San Francisco, Santa Cruz, and Berkeley.

Genomatica Deploys Versant JDO in SimPheny Platform

Versant said last week that Genomatica has deployed Versant Open Access JDO as a component of its SimPheny biological simulation platform.

Genomatica is using the Versant system for object-relational mapping, a process that translates the data formats used in object-oriented languages to the relational structure of common databases.

Versant Open Access JDO "gives us the ability to transparently support complex mapping patterns and existing relational schema," said Evelyn Travnik, chief software designer at Genomatica, in a statement.

Eisai Licenses Jubilant's PathArt

Jubilant Biosys said last week that Japan's Eisai had purchased a global license to its Kinase ChemBiobases.

The license was negotiated through Patocore, Jubiliant's distributor in Japan.

IBM, U of Pittsburgh Medical Center, Ink $402M Healthcare IT Deal

IBM said last week that it has signed an eight-year, $402 million healthcare IT agreement with the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.

Under the terms of the agreement, UPMC's technology infrastructure will be "completely re-engineered to an on-demand environment," IBM said. This part of the agreement, valued at $352 million, will build on UPMC's current electronic health record strategy and will integrate patient information across all of the center's facilities.

IBM and UPMC will also co-develop and co-commercialize medical technologies and information systems to address specific patient care and public safety initiatives, in areas such as electronic patient records, biosecurity, and information-based medicine. The two organizations initially will jointly invest a minimum of $50 million in this initiative, with a total possible joint investment of $200 million throughout the life of the contract.

In addition, IBM said that it will contribute "hardware and technical developments" to a UPMC team that is working with the National Cancer Institute's caBIG (cancer biomedical informatics grid) project.

MIT to Host Bioinformatics Course

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology will host a short course on bioinformatics June 20-24.

The course is designed for research biologists, chemists, industrial scientists and engineers, and R&D managers. Tuition is $2,995.

Course faculty includes Isidore Rigoutsos, manager of bioinformatics and pattern discovery at IBM Research's Computational Biology Center; Gregory Stephanopoulos of the department of chemical engineering at MIT; and Shankar Subramanian of the department of bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego.

Further information on the course is available at

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