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MCNC AWARDED MULTIMILLION DOLLAR GRANT FOR BASIC RESEARCH IN HEALTH SCIENCES

 RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK, N.C., Oct. 19 /PRNewswire/ -- MCNC has received a five-year, $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), according to company president Dr. Matthew Kuhn. "This award represents a very large investment by NIH toward advancing the techniques and tools used in nonclinical research," says Kuhn. The grant supports development of a national resource in specialized high speed computers for research in molecular biology by collaborating scientists at MCNC, and at universities and research organizations.
 During the five-year program, the team will develop, prove and disseminate parallel computing resources to members of the biological research community in North Carolina and across the nation. "This award recognizes both the excellence of North Carolina's research community in the health sciences and the foresight displayed by the leaders of our state's government in establishing a presence in supercomputing," says Dr. Lawrence Lee, the program's principal investigator. Since its founding in 1989, the N.C. Supercomputing Program has, with its specialized expertise and computing resources, helped foster the state's academic research programs.
 The project unites scientists from Duke University, University of North Carolina (UNC)-Chapel Hill, North Carolina State University, Research Triangle Institute (RTI), New York University, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) and technical staff members of MCNC's Information Technologies Division, whose primary disciplines include computer science, chemistry, electrical engineering and mathematics. Dr. Jan Hermans, professor of biochemistry and biophysics at the UNC School of Medicine, will serve as scientific director of the project.
 The program is unique in its use of parallel computing to understand the forces at work within and between large molecules such as proteins. "The phenomenal growth in computer resources available for scientific research makes it possible to undertake projects that were inconceivable five or ten years ago," says Hermans. "Our project will exploit the possibility of modeling the structure and motion of large biomolecular systems, and thereby better understand their behavior. Such understanding is basic to our ability to make advances in the medical sciences; besides, these computer simulations can be used directly in a more practical sense in drug development by the pharmaceutical industry."
 Researchers already are using MCNC-developed tools in medical applications, including studies on blood clotting and on relationships among certain proteins and cancers.
 The team's activities will focus on the use of the KSR1, a new design of parallel computer first produced in 1991. Because parallel computers process many calculations simultaneously, they are capable of executing tasks in a fraction of the time needed by conventional computers. In addition, the KSR1 is "scalable." This means that scientists can write relatively simple computer codes, test them, and if they work, build them into massive programs capable of solving incredibly complex problems. The result is that researchers spend far fewer hours writing computer code and waiting for programs to be executed, and more valuable time on actual biological research.
 The team will dedicate the first year to technology research and development in collaboration with investigators. Later, members of biological communities nationwide will have access to the technologies developed at MCNC. Technical staff members at MCNC will handle future training, support and information dissemination.
 BACKGROUND: MCNC is a private, nonprofit corporation located in Research Triangle Park, N.C. MCNC provides advanced resources in electronic and information technologies to support education and industry and enhance science-based economic development in North Carolina.
 -0- 10/19/93
 /CONTACT: Eileen Sarro of MCNC, 919-248-1827/


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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Oct 19, 1993
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