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Cedars-Sinai Supercomputer Ranked Among World's Most Powerful

Data to Assist Medical Researchers in Treating Patients with Advanced Cancers

Los Angeles - July 25, 2006 – Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, one of the largest academic medical centers in the Western United States, has been recognized for having one of the 500 most powerful computers in the world.  Cedars-Sinai’s supercomputer is designed to analyze blood proteins from cancer cells and provide information that will allow researchers to more accurately predict how cancer patients will respond to specific treatments.   

The Cedars-Sinai supercomptuter  -- fed up to 2 Terabytes of molecular patient data per day -- was ranked the 412th most powerful supercomputer in the world by TOP500,  a technology ranking organization that recently  released its list.   A supercomputer is an extremely powerful computer capable of manipulating massive amounts of data in a short period of time.   

Cedars-Sinai is one of the few medical centers in the world both to have a supercomputer as well as to be recognized on the TOP500 list.  It is also one of the only organizations to have a physician, David Agus, M.D., overseeing the supercomputer’s research efforts.  Dr. Agus is a prominent medical researcher specializing in cancer treatment and the development of new technologies for healthcare at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.  

“It is truly remarkable that we have this kind of computing power here, and it’s a sign of the changing times in medical research,” Dr. Agus said.  “We are trying to develop ‘predictive medicine,’ and we are passionate about using this technology to help patients quickly and appropriately.  

“When a patient with advanced cancer is undergoing a specific treatment that isn’t effective, there has been very little scientific data available to direct us to the next therapy to recommend -- or any way to know whether that next option will result in a better outcome,” he said.  ”With the supercomputer, we are now trying to develop the ability to identify specific proteomic patterns in the blood of individual patients.  This information helps us to better understand and foresee the course of disease for each patient, and to identify the outcome to a particular therapeutic intervention in advance.  This individualized medical approach has tremendous potential to advance cancer treatment and outcomes.”      

The supercomputer, the Sun Microsystems Fire x2100 Cluster with 800 processors, was installed in late 2005 at Cedars-Sinai.  Research is being funded by the National Cancer Institute and other philanthropic donors.

The TOP500 organization is comprised of technology experts from the University of Mannheim, Germany, the University of Tennessee, and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California.  The TOP500 list – published twice a year in June and December - tracks the use of supercomputers at commercial, scientific and academic research institutions.  To help determine the June 2006 rankings, TOP500 analysts reviewed supercomputer speeds, as well as the types of data they process.

The TOP500 project was initiated in 1993 to provide a reliable basis for tracking and detecting trends in high-performance computing.  For more information, check the 2006 TOP500 list