The Institute of Life Science (ILS) and Swansea University provide a unique infrastructure for computational biology, based around the Blue C supercomputer.
The computer can perform calculations that would take hours or even days on an existing computer – its average speed is 2.7 teraflops (this is an industry-recognised measure of high performance computing where ‘Tera’ is 1012 while ‘flops’ stands for floating point operation per second).
The interaction between medicine and deep computing is a key factor in life sciences. Medicine will increasingly rely on the easily-digestible presentation of very complex information in deciding what treatment is best to suit each individual patient. This 'information-based medicine' - or health informatics – is based on a powerful IT infrastructure.
The use of supercomputing to drive forward medical treatment is at the forefront of both current genetic and molecular laboratory-based research. It is also revolutionising community-based healthcare studies where disparate sets of information on trends are being brought together. Supercomputing will, one day, enable doctors to tailor treatment individually to each patient's needs.
Blue C is used for a wide range of projects, including simulations of epidemics, analyses of viral genomes, mathematical models of fluid flow in arteries and construction of images from CT scans. It also supports extremely large clinical databases for use in on-going projects that require large storage capacity, integrated statistical modelling tools and remote access.
The supercomputer is also being utilized by other departments across the University, such as Engineering, Physics and Mathematics, to work on interdisciplinary life science projects. Click here to find out more