The world's biggest supercomputing facility dedicated to life sciences receives funding boost

October 14 / 147

12181 0630 - IBM Chip. Teaser: 9865 - IBM BG/Q at VLSCI
12181 0630 - IBM Chip. Teaser: 9865 - IBM BG/Q at VLSCI

The Victorian State Government has announced a $6.65 million funding boost for the Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI).

The $100 million VLSCI, established by the Victorian Government and the University of Melbourne in 2008, includes the world’s most powerful supercomputing facility dedicated to the life sciences. It has grown to become a national facility used by researchers around the country.

The VLSCI has drawn international computation and biology experts to manage the supercomputer resource and provide training and support to researchers unaccustomed to working at this scale.

Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research) Professor James McCluskey, said the University, along with VLSCI’s key stakeholders – La Trobe and Monash Universities – were delighted to have secured the future of this major piece of Australian research infrastructure. 

“The Victorian and Australian research community will continue to benefit greatly from this extraordinary facility and its exceptional staff expertise. It will continue to provide a vital part of the necessary research infrastructure needed for the development of improved treatments and understanding of some of the world’s most complex diseases,” he said.

Director Professor Peter R. Taylor congratulated his team for all their hard work creating the VLSCI. 

"We have proved to our stakeholders that the returns on investment are evident and that this is the way of the future,” he said.

“With exascale computing on the near horizon, we will continue to need to invest in these technologies and the people with skills to make the most of them.”

Minister for Technology Gordon Rich-Phillips said the Napthine Government’s grant was important to the on-going development of the industry locally and to sustaining Victoria’s competitiveness in global life sciences.

“The VLSCI provides high-performance computer infrastructure and expertise to life sciences researchers, supporting the growth of Victoria’s biotechnology capacity and global reputation” Mr Rich-Phillips said.

“For example, the IBM Research Collaboratory, which has been co-located with the VLSCI since 2010, has enabled collaboration between Victoria’s world-class life sciences and medical researchers and IBM’s computational biology experts. This has enhanced Victoria’s reputation as a global centre for excellence in life sciences research capabilities.” 

The funding commitment lets the VLSCI continue its operations at its research hubs at the University of Melbourne (Parkville), Monash University (Clayton) and La Trobe University (Bundoora).

Mr Rich-Phillips said he was pleased the VLSCI was committed to ensuring its facilities and expertise would be accessible to more Victorian businesses operating in the life sciences sector.

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