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Pharma 2010: Silicon Reality, Starbridge, Life Sciences-Information Technology Global Institute, Apple award program, First Genetic Trust, United Devices, Gene-IT, Geneva Bioinformatics


IBM Names Seven ‘Key’ Technologies for Advancing Pharma Productivity

IBM Business Consulting Services has released an industry report that identifies seven information technology areas that it forecasts can help the pharmaceutical industry reduce its pre-launch drug development costs from $800 million to $200 million per drug, and cut average lead times from 12-14 years to between 3-5 years.

The report, Pharma 2010: Silicon Reality, estimates that the pharmaceutical industry spends around $20 billion a year on information technology — around 4 percent of its annual gross revenues — but “few pharmaceutical companies can claim to have realized the full benefits of the money they have spent.”

The report highlights seven “key” technologies that it predicts will offer the most significant return on investment to pharmaceutical companies over the next decade, including: petaflop and grid computing; predictive biosimulation; pervasive computing; radio frequency identification tags; advanced storage solutions; process analytical technology; and web-scale data mining and advanced text analytics.

The complete report is available at

NCI to Use Starbridge Hypercomputer

Starbridge Systems said last week that the National Cancer Institute’s Advanced Biomedical Computing Center has purchased a Starbridge Hypercomputer.

The company developed a scalable implementation of the Smith-Waterman algorithm to run on its reconfigurable Hypercomputer system. In a demonstration, the company compared the human X and Y chromosomes in around five days on the Hypercomputer [BioInform 04-12-04].

Non-Profit Institute to Support ‘Good Informatics Practices’ for Life Sciences

A new non-profit institute launched last week aims to develop open source IT architectures for life science research that will enable industry-wide “Good Informatics Practices.”

The group, called the Life Sciences-Information Technology Global Institute, was founded by the San Diego Supercomputer Center at the University of California, San Diego, and UCSD’s Global Connect outreach program. The institute plans to develop a set of life science IT best practices “in the same manner that Underwriter Laboratories developed trusted safety references and standards for the electrical industry,” said Greg Horowitt, executive director of Global Connect.

Several organizations have signed on as active members of the LSIT Global Institute so far, including Novartis, Pfizer, ProSanos, Sun Microsystems, and the Burnham Institute.

LSIT spokeswoman Anette Asher told BioInform that the group is actively recruiting new members, and plans to enlist ten new organizations in the coming weeks.

Apple to Award Five Bioinformatics Clusters

Apple has launched an award program that will provide five US-based scientific research projects with 4-node G5 bioinformatics clusters.

Applications for the program are due on June 13, and a panel of scientists will help Apple review and select the five winners based on “the applicant’s scientific record, the likelihood that [the] project will discover something novel using the award, and the likelihood that [the] research focus would yield methods or discoveries applicable to the broader life science community.” Recipients will be announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developers Conference on June 29.

Each recipient will receive an Apple Workgroup Cluster with four dual-processor Xserve G5s with 2 GB RAM; the BioTeam iNquiry suite of 200 pre-installed bioinformatics applications; an XtremeMac Xrack Pro sound-suppressing enclosure; an APC Smart-UPS 2200 VA power supply; an Asanté GX5-800 gigabit ethernet switch; and three years of service and support.

Further information on the program is available at

FGT Wins $2M Grant for PGx Database

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has awarded First Genetic Trust a $2 million Advanced Technology Program grant to develop a pharmacogenomics database.

The two-year award will support development of an information system to manage medical and genetic data related to adverse drug reactions and pharmacogenomics. Specifically, the grant will fund a prototype “clearinghouse ... that will support large-scale surveillance and research studies into the genetic basis for adverse drug reactions,” according to the project brief.

FGT said that the system will provide patients with a secure communication mechanism that will allow them to interact anonymously with researchers. Conversely, patients can be re-contacted by researchers to participate in research studies, while maintaining their anonymity.

Further information about the grant is available at

UD, Texas A&M Build 1,000-Processor Grid

Texas A&M University said last week that is using United Devices’ Grid MP platform to link 1,000 computers into a distributed computing system for microbial genetics and genomics research.

The university plans to use the grid for structure-based drug design in areas such as tuberculosis.

Financial terms of the installation were not provided, but UD said that it is working with the university “on grant proposals to investigate various orphan diseases.”

Aventis Licenses Gene-IT’s GenomeQuest

Gene-IT said last week that Aventis has agreed to license its GenomeQuest IP sequence search software.

Financial terms of the licensing agreement were not provided.

Gene-IT said that the license expands upon a previous agreement in which Aventis’s senior intellectual property investigators had access to the software to “validate its use in production.” Now, the company’s IP investigators will have “worldwide” access to the software, which compares genome sequences in patent databases for prior-art searches.

GeneBio Opens Japanese Branch

Geneva Bioinformatics last week said it has opened a Tokyo branch office to expand its presence within the Japanese proteomics community.

GeneBio currently relies exclusively upon local distributors within Japan, and cited the “need for a more dedicated presence and the ability to customize products for local markets” as the reason for locating an overseas branch.

Yasuhiro Kuroda, formerly manager of the life sciences business for Japanese software distributor Infocom, will serve as business manager for the Tokyo office.

GeneBio’s move to Japan follows closely behind a similar initiative by Matrix Science, another proteomics software provider, which opened a Japanese subsidiary in January [BioInform 01-26-04].


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