A $100 million partnership between the University of Melbourne and IBM, which will see the IT giant supply a supercomputer and manpower to the university, was announced yesterday by Victorian Premier John Brumby.
The university will play host to the Blue Gene supercomputer which will be put to the task of working on life sciences problems.
"Through the partnership, we will be better placed to fulfil the [group's] mission to revolutionise computational drug discovery for diseases such as HIV-AIDS, hepatitis C, breast cancer, prostate cancer, Alzheimer's disease and epilepsy, and ultimately to provide personalised medical treatment based on inherited genetic make-up," said University of Melbourne deputy vice-chancellor Peter Rathjen in a statement.
According to Professor Terry O'Brien, head of Department of Medicine at Royal Melbourne Hospital, the partnership will prove incredibly useful for the diagnosis and treatment of epilepsy, which he said was the most common serious neurological disease worldwide. "The immediate clinical outcome will be classifier models that can be used as diagnostic tests, providing greater certainty for patient and clinician of individual treatment outcomes," said O'Brien.
As part of the project, IBM researchers will create a "collaboratory" with Melbourne University and share skills, assets and resources to achieve a common research goal. This will mean a handful of IBM workers moving on-site to the university.
However, IBM was coy on revealing how much of the $100 million set out for the life sciences program would fall into its coffers, when asked by ZDNet.com.au.
The initiative was jointly sponsored by the Victorian Government and the University of Melbourne.