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Decks cleared for Sun Micro centre at CDFD

By Our Staff Reporter


HYDERABAD, FEB. 11. Global computer giant Sun Microsystems would be setting up its first Indian ``Centre of Excellence'' (CoE) in medical bioinformatics at the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics under an MoU signed between Seyed E. Hasnain, Director, CDFD, B.P. Acharya, Secretary, Industry and Commerce and Andrew Lin, Director, Sun Microsystems here on Wednesday.

Sun would be providing high end computer hardware for data storage, computations and networking as also software to collect, collate and analyse large amounts of biological and medical data.

Spread over 7,000 square feet of CDFD's new campus at Gandipet on the city's outskirts, the US $ 5-million CoE would allow scientists to study protein-drug interactions in great detail, extend knowledge of genetic functions as well as develop a national database of genetic disorders.

Dr. Hasnain said that high performance computers were needed to transform the large amount of data being generated in molecular and genetic research into useful knowledge. He said this collaboration between CDFD and Sun Microsystems would help them reinforce their position as the premier research facility in the areas of genetic and molecular biology.

Kim Jones, vice-president, global education and research, Sun Microsystems, said they had over 80 CoE all over the world, 16 of which were in the areas of bioinformatics.

Speaking specifically about the CoE to be set up at CDFD, she said it would help in developing a disease-related research database for Indians as well as contributing to R&D in genomics and drug discovery.

Under the terms of the MoU, Sun Microsystems would transfer necessary technology as well as training to CDFD, link it to the larger network of CoEs all over the world, promote CDFD in international events, encourage joint projects as well as provide unlimited software and online training.

In his welcome address, Bhaskar Pramanik, MD, Sun India, recounted the close links between Sun Microsystems and academia. Sun originally was a short form for `Stanford University Network' and the company grew out of university research in networking.

D. Balasubramaniam, Chairman, Biotech Advisory Committee of AP, highlighted how cross-fertilisation between computational powers and biology and chemistry had led to the development of the bioinformatics field.

H.A. Nagarajaram, head of bioinformatics facility at CDFD, elaborated on how this CoE would turn CDFD into a hub of bioinformatics research. He said that CDFD was already the India Node of the European Molecular Biology network and was trying to become the India Node for the Asia Pacific Bioinformatics network.

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