IBM signs up to support genomic research into pediatric conditions


IBM ($IBM) has entered into a 5-year collaboration with the University of Calgary. The alliance will see IBM install computing and storage infrastructure at the university to support its research into the genetics of conditions including autism.

Researchers have examined the genetics causes of cases at Alberta Children’s Hospital for years, but there are still major gaps in its, and the wider pediatric community’s, understanding of what causes some conditions. One in four children admitted to the hospital has an illness that is either undiagnosed or unknown, a fact that underpins researchers’ desire to improve their genomic analysis capabilities. This is where IBM comes in.

The IT veteran is installing computing infrastructure running its POWER8 line of high-end processors at the hospital. IBM is also setting the hospital’s research wing up with storage capacity and software to analyze the data it houses. The expectation is that the new capabilities will cut the time it takes for researchers to investigate the genetic and environmental factors that could be at the root of an array of childhood conditions.

“Advances in our ability to capture and analyze data have truly cross-cutting effects for research programs throughout the university,” Ed McCauley, VP of research at the University of Calgary, said in a statement. “This collaboration will not only allow researchers to sort through larger data sets and provide advanced skill development opportunities for our trainees, it will increase capacity for genomics work in Calgary.”

The team in Calgary has earmarked the use of the new capabilities for three projects. Dr. Micheil Innes, whose research into autism was cited by the university as an example of what it hopes to achieve by working with IBM, is among the researchers set to benefit from access to the new tools and infrastructure.

- read IBM’s release
- and the university’s statement

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