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   A Memorial University of Newfoundland Publication

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March 18, 2004
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Atlantic Canada’s first high performance computing network
CFI boosts research at Memorial
Dr. Gary Paterno
Photo by HSIMS
Dr. Gary Paterno, Terry Fox Cancer Laboratories, is named as the principal investigator in a project funded by the CFI.
By Deborah Inkpen
Memorial University researchers will lead an elite group of major players in computation-based research in Canada with the announcement of $9.9 million for an Atlantic Canadian high performance computing (HPC) network. The Canada Foundation for Innovation (CFI) awarded $9,934,611 to Memorial University to establish ACEnet, the Atlantic Computational Excellence Network (ACEnet). Memorial is the lead institution for this network, with six partner institutions: St. Francis Xavier University, Saint Mary’s University, the University of New Brunswick, Mount Allison University, the University of Prince Edward Island and Dalhousie University.

Dr. Mark Whitmore, professor in the Department of Physics and Physical Oceanography, is the lead investigator on the project. He feels ACEnet will transform research in Atlantic Canada and will encourage more research collaborations among Atlantic Canada research institutions, while attracting students and researchers to the region.

“The network will be composed of clusters of large scale super computers, including symmetric multi-processors,” said Dr. Whitmore. “These clusters will allow any researcher to undertake research from any location.”

“ACEnet will provide transformative high performance computing capability in support of research excellence throughout Atlantic Canada,” said Dr. Chris Loomis, vice-president (research).

ACEnet will focus on fields that require high performance computing infrastructure and expertise, and in which there are existing regional strengths and a commonality of interests. The network will also be equipped with screens called access grid nodes, which will enable joint seminars, workshops, training programs and, perhaps most importantly, regular informal interactions among distant researchers.

“The network can serve as is a model for how to do things regionally,” said Dr. Whitmore. “A publicly stated priority for our regional institutions is the determination to forge a combined regional, internationally-recognized powerhouse of research and development. This kind of collaborative network opens the doors to a wider range of research activities by overcoming the challenges of our geography.”

Other CFI awards to Memorial
In addition to the ACEnet award, CFI awarded $531,988 to Memorial researchers for a QStar tandem mass spectrometer for the analysis of molecular structures and interactions. This machine will profoundly enhance the research capabilities of Memorial University's researchers to perform innovative research, which will impact the health, welfare, economic development and quality of life of Canadians and the global population.

Dr. Gary Paterno, Terry Fox Cancer Laboratories, is named as the principal investigator but he said the grant application was done in partnership with Dr. Robert Gendron, Basic Medical Sciences.

“This grant would not have been successful without the cooperation and input of researchers form across the university including Basic Medical Sciences, clinical medicine, chemistry, biochemistry, biology and the Ocean Sciences Centre. A significant amount of the equipment which is needed to feed into the mass spectrometer is in place thanks to the CFI New Opportunities grant to Drs. Robert Gendron, Jules Doré, Hélène Paradis and Daniel MacPhee in a previous competition.”

The tandem mass spectrometer will profoundly enhance the research capabilities of Memorial University’s researchers to perform innovative research, which will impact the health, welfare, economic development and quality of life of Canadians and the global population. The tandem mass spectrometer is an instrument that is used in many diverse research fields to identify and characterize molecules with exquisite accuracy and from small amounts of material. This field is now beginning to exploit the tremendous advances and information in the area of genomics, including the complete DNA sequence of humans and many other organisms to address many problems in biology, biochemistry, health and disease.

The total investment from CFI to support the three projects was almost $11 million.

“We can say with conviction that Canada is becoming a place where world-class researchers want to be,” said Dr. David Strangway, president and CEO of CFI. “This investment will further develop Canada's global reputation as a place where outstanding research and training is being conducted.”

A list of Innovation Fund projects by university can be found at www.innovation.ca.

 


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Next issue: April 8, 2004

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