ExaScience Life Lab aims for HPC breakthroughs in life sciences

Conceived as an extension of Intel’s ExaScience Lab for High Performance Computing opened at imec in 2010, The ExaScience Life Lab has been founded by Intel, imec and five Flemish universities – University Antwerp, Ghent University, KU Leuven (University of Leuven), Hasselt University, and VUB (Vrije Universiteit Brussel). With the aim of boosting research in the life sciences, the lab will be situated on the imec campus in Leuven, Belgium, and will collaborate with Janssen Pharmaceutica in the future.

‘Intel has an extensive network of research laboratories in Europe. Once operational, the ExaScience Life Lab will be our European centre of excellence for high-performance computing in the life sciences,’ said Intel lab manager, Luc Provoost. ‘The intended collaboration with Janssen Pharmaceuticals should enable us to build even more powerful supercomputers. We expect the lab’s joint research and development efforts to lead to major breakthroughs in the use of supercomputing for bioscientific applications.’

One of the initial focuses of the lab will be question of how supercomputers can accelerate the processing of entire genome sequences. Today, such an analysis takes approximately 48 hours, and with the expected explosion of genome data becoming available in the coming years, it is crucial to improve the efficiency of the computing process. A second application area of the ExaScience Life Lab will be to examine the use of computer simulations in the life sciences. Testing hypotheses through computer simulation of both cells and tissues instead of through wet-lab testing can potentially save considerable amounts of time and costs associated with lab tests.

Flemish Minister of Innovation Ingrid Lieten added: ‘Flanders enjoys an enviable reputation in the fields of life sciences, biotechnology and high-performance computing, with a research-driven industry and highly skilled knowledge workers. The ExaScience Life Lab will stimulate collaboration between various disciplines and between the academic and the corporate world. It will establish Flanders as a leading region for supercomputing in life sciences. To achieve this, the ExaScience Life Lab will work closely with the Flemish Supercomputer Centre.’

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