Indiana University's Pervasive Technology Institute, Cancer Computer Join Forces For Cure

November 22 2019

The following press release originally appeared on the University of Indiana's IT News available here. 

BLOOMINGTON, Ind.—Indiana University’s Pervasive Technology Institute (PTI) and the Canadian nonprofit Cancer Computer are teaming up to increase cancer research capacity—and ultimately hasten a cure for the deadly disease.

The two parties recently signed a three-year co-location agreement to allow Cancer Computer to place hardware in the IU Data Center in Bloomington. In exchange, IU will provide facility infrastructure (space, power, cooling, network, etc.) while Cancer Computer will supply the hardware and remote administration of the hardware. Hardware installation is slated for December 2019.

“It’s a very simple, but very powerful idea,” said Rob Quick, an associate director at PTI and main contact on the project. “In essence, Cancer Computer repurposes donated hardware to increase the computing capacity available to cancer researchers. IU will provide a home for this hardware, as it analyzes cancer data to uncover a cure.”

Seventy-five percent of Cancer Computer’s hardware will be prioritized for IU-based cancer researchers, while the rest will be earmarked for national and international cancer researchers. One IU project that will continue to benefit is the IU School of Medicine Structural Protein-Ligand Interactome (SPLInter), which has been using Cancer Computer resources for several years.

“We’re grateful for the opportunity to extend our three-year relationship with Indiana University by providing an eight-server, high-memory cluster, with a 40 terabyte high-IOPS, all-flash array to deploy a powerful bioinformatics workflow management system capable of supporting IU researchers in the cancer domain,” said Roy Chartier, founder and chief technology officer, Cancer Computer.

The SPLInter project is an online database that predicts interactions of small organic molecules with proteins. This is important data to have, as small-molecule therapeutics, such as the anti-cancer drug Gleevec, work by binding to a specific protein in the body and modulating its function. Cancer researchers work to pinpoint proteins in cancer cells, and find compounds that target those proteins, all in hopes of shutting them down.

IU’s new partnership with Cancer Computer was born from IU’s long-term relationship with the Open Science Grid (OSG). Quick previously led the operations effort for the OSG, but has since moved into a position at PTI as the associate director of the Cyberinfrastructure Integration Research Center.

“In the process of working with Cancer Computer colleagues to execute cancer jobs on OSG, I became an active supporter of their mission,” Quick said. “It’s an honor to have a part in increasing the research capacity directly aimed at ‘computing for a cure.’”