BLACKSBURG, Dec. 20, 2001 - Governor James Gilmore today announced a research relationship between IBM and Virginia Bioinformatics Institute (VBI) at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech) to jointly pursue advances in bioinformatics.
VBI has also received a donation of IBM computing equipment through IBM's Shared University Research (SUR) award program. The equipment includes an IBM Enterprise Storage Server** (code-named Shark) disk storage system, which will create a state-of-the-art storage facility for a data grid serving the global bioinformatics research community . VBI and IBMs Watson Research Lab will explore research opportunities to integrate the massive volumes of disparate genomic data and develop and test algorithms to analyze and understand the biological significance of the data.
The research relationship with IBM solidifies a critical component of VBIs IT infrastructure," said Dr. Bruno Sobral, Director of Virginia Bioinformatics Institute. "More importantly, research collaborations with IBM are critical to advancing new technologies for biological computing. IBM research is truly world-class and VBI scientists will benefit from the interaction.
VBI has successfully attracted research grants and contracts from the National Science Foundation, the Department of Agriculture and other federal agencies, as well as from foundations and corporations. VBI is working to attract biotech and bioinformatics companies to Virginia, to create companies with local entrepreneurs and researchers and to form partnerships with industry leaders like the IBM Corporation. "Through the work underway at VBI, Virginia Tech is laying the groundwork to become a leading institution in biological research," said Dr. Caroline Kovac, general manager, IBM Life Sciences. "IBM is delighted to be VBI's technology partner. By pursuing joint research initiatives, both organizations will be able to draw on complementary strengths to accelerate the development of new technologies for life sciences."
Bioinformatics promises radical changes for science in the 21st century by proposing to understand organisms at the most basic levels of genes and proteins. This will be accomplished by a fusion of information technology with biotechnology. With such knowledge, scientists will be able to tailor medicines to individual needs or to engineer crops to withstand precise elemental conditions.
Last year, the Commonwealth of Virginia invested nearly $12 million to help launch the Virginia Bioinformatics Institute at Virginia Tech as a shared Commonwealth resource. In its first year, VBI has grown to employ 29 researchers in such disciplines as mathematics, chemistry, physics and various fields of biology. These scientists work together to solve some of the most difficult problems in computational biology. The Institute plans to more than double in the next year and will eventually employ 200 to 300 researchers in another 5-8 years.
IBM Life Sciences brings together IBM resources from research, services and e-business expertise to data and storage management and high-performance computing, to offer new solutions for the life sciences market, including biotechnology, genomic, e-health, pharmaceutical, and agri-science industries.
December 21, 2001