Mayo Clinic to Use IBM’s Blue Gene

Sinking its teeth deeper into the health care industry, IBM
this week agreed to let Mayo Clinic use its Blue Gene supercomputer to
research diseases.

The goal is to tap into the abundance of new data to foster medical
breakthroughs, according to a statement. Financial terms of the pact were
not made public, but IBM and the Mayo Clinic said they would spend “millions of
dollars per year in manpower, research and technology.”

The Mayo Clinic will be the first medical institution to use the power of
Blue Gene, accessing specialized algorithms to perform molecular modeling.
IBM and the clinic will also aim to map current and historical patient
records and link them to new types of medical information.

“Our collaboration with IBM is focused on advancing the Mayo Clinic mission
in the areas of patient care and research,” said Denis Cortese, M.D.,
president and CEO of Mayo Clinic. “We are at a point with
standards in technology and new genomic-based analytic techniques where we
can achieve more in the next 10 years than we’ve achieved in the last 100,
and we see in IBM a partner with a very unique capacity to deliver expertise
and innovation.”

IBM and Mayo Clinic have already integrated 4.4 million patient records into
a unified system, making it easier for physicians and researchers to call
up info.

Going forward, both Big Blue and Mayo will integrate genomic and proteomic
data with clinical records and public databases for use by physicians. The
companies will also use Blue Gene to compare patient data to the data of
other patients with similar disease characteristics.

For example, a doctor might be able to pinpoint the exact location of a
patient’s cancer, as well as its gene characteristics, and make a
prognostication based on the outcomes of therapy in the last 500 patients
with similar cancer.

The multi-billion-dollar medical field is a lucrative one for IBM and other
high-tech companies, which are all jockeying for position in the world’s
largest life sciences companies.

IBM has locked down the Mayo Clinic since 2001 and Blue Gene, one of the
company’s most popular supercomputers, has been used by
several government organizations for research. Last November, IBM introduced
a smaller version of Blue Gene.

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