OHSU teams with Intel to decode root causes of cancer and other complex diseases
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author


PORTLAND, Ore.óOregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and Intel Corp. announced in mid-April that they are teaming up to develop next-generation computing technologies for advancing the field of personalized medicine, with an eye toward "dramatically increasing the speed, precision and cost- effectiveness of analyzing a patient's individual genetic profile."  
To that end, the two organizations are forming a multi-year research and engineering collaboration under which engineers and scientists from the two institutions will develop hardware, software and workflow solutions for Intel's extreme-scale, high-performance computing solutions that will be designed to cope with the unprecedented volume of complex biomedical data personalized medicine generates and will continue to generate.  
"This collaboration combines Intel's strengths in developing energy-efficient, extreme-scale computing solutions with OHSU 's lead in visualizing and understanding complex biological information," said Stephen Pawlowski, Intel senior fellow and chief technology officer of the company's Datacenter and Connected Systems Group, in an official statement. "We look forward to working together with the goal of improving the efficiency of complex disease diagnosis and personalized treatment."  
Intel's so-called extreme-scale computing is reportedly capable of handling billions of complex computations simultaneously, and this will be combined with OHSU's "four-dimensional" approach in imaging and analyzing the molecular-level drivers of cancer and other diseases. OHSU's imaging techniques are said to work like a "Google map" for cancer by providing a highly detailed view of how cells change over time at the molecular level along with a big-picture analysis of how the cells behave as a system.
The ultimate objective of the collaborations isn't simply to drive down costs or drive up efficiency but also to drive scientific progress forward in understanding the genetic origins of illness, starting with cancer, Ideally, by doing this at an individual patient level the life-sciences and healthcare communities will better be able to make precision medicine a more routine model of patient care on a broad basis.  
An integrated OHSU/Intel team is currently working on a research data center equipped with an Intel supercomputing cluster. Along with top researchers from the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute, the collaboration will include computer scientists, biophysicists, genomicists, bio-informaticists, biologists and other experts. The team's first projects will be focused on genetic profiling of patients' tumors to look for patterns in how the disease progresses and how to relate this information to how the tumor will respond to treatment.    

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