High performance computing can lead to new insights and breakthroughs in life sciences and biotechnology. As a result, the use of supercomputers will become as strategically vital as lab research. In the development of medical supercomputers, close collaboration with specialists in the field is becoming ever more important since this allows the additional computing power to be utilised to maximum advantage. That is why Intel, Janssen Pharmaceutica, imec and five Flemish universities have decided to join forces. During the coming months, Intel, Janssen Pharmaceutica, imec and the Flemish Universities will negotiate in good faith to establish the appropriate agreements in such respect.
The ExaScience Life Lab aims to boost research in the life sciences. Initially, the lab will focus on two fields of application. First, the lab will examine how supercomputers can accelerate the processing of entire genome sequences. Today, such an analysis takes approximately 48 hours, and with the expected explosion of genome data becoming available in the coming years, it is crucial to improve the efficiency of the computing process. A second application area of the ExaScience Life Lab will be to examine the use of computer simulations in the life sciences. Testing hypotheses through computer simulation both cells and tissues instead of through wet-lab testing saves considerable amounts of time and cost associated to lab tests.
The ExaScience Life Lab is conceived as an extension of Intel's ExaScience Lab for High Performance Computing opened at imec in 2010.
"Intel has an extensive network of research laboratories in Europe. Once operational, the ExaScience Life Lab will be our European centre of excellence for high performance computing in the life sciences", stated Intel lab manager Luc Provoost. "The intended collaboration with Janssen Pharmaceuticals should enable us to build even more powerful supercomputers. We expect the labs joint research and development efforts to lead to major breakthroughs in the use of supercomputing for bioscientific applications."
"It is our conviction that the ExaScience Life Lab will act as a catalyst in our aspiration to solve certain critical medical needs through technological innovation", stated Gunaretnam Rajagopal, Janssen Pharmaceutica's Head of computational sciences. "In the future, supercomputing will become a key force behind advances in life sciences."
Flemish Minister of Innovation Ingrid Lieten pointed out that "Flanders enjoys an enviable reputation in the fields of life sciences, biotechnology and high performance computing, with a research-driven industry and highly skilled knowledge workers. The ExaScience Life Lab will stimulate collaboration between various disciplines and between the academic and the corporate world. It will establish Flanders as a leading region for supercomputing in life sciences. To achieve this, the ExaScience Life Lab will work closely with the Flemish Supercomputer Centre."
Luc Van den hove, President and CEO at imec, stated: "We are very excited about this unique collaboration with leading international companies such as Intel and Janssen Pharmaceutica, and with the Flemish universities. I have every confidence that by pooling our resources and expertise, the ExaScience Life Lab will achieve excellent results that will stimulate research and development in the life sciences. I would like to thank the Flemish government and IWT for their financial support to the ExaScience Life Lab. And I am looking forward to a productive and strategic long-term collaboration."