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Emma O’Neill
Media Officer
University of Melbourne
Mobile: 0432758734

Diane Squires
Media and Public Relations Manager
University of Melbourne
Mobile: 0432 754 232

Victorian life sciences researchers are set to benefit from a partnership between the University of Melbourne and IBM announced today by the Premier of Victoria, the Hon. John Brumby.

The partnership will dramatically increase the research and supercomputing capabilities of the University of Melbourne-led Victorian Life Sciences Computation Initiative (VLSCI).

The Victorian Government and the University established the $100 million VLSCI in 2008 to strengthen the research capabilities and outcomes of Victorian life sciences research.

Under the partnership, IBM will establish an IBM Collaboratory with leading life sciences and computational specialists at the University of Melbourne. 

It is the first time IBM has established a collaboratory in life sciences anywhere in the world and it is the first IBM research collaboratory in the southern hemisphere.

University of Melbourne Vice-Chancellor Professor Glyn Davis says the University is delighted to link with IBM in this partnership which will help to further raise the profile of Victoria - and Australia - on the international map as a life sciences powerhouse equal to the best in the world.
“The outcome of this partnership will be a significant strengthening of the research capabilities of Victoria's life sciences researchers and a dramatic expansion of their capacity to carry out world-class life sciences research right here in Melbourne."
As part of the partnership, IBM will provide a Blue Gene supercomputer offering high speed and large scale processing capacity, enabling scientists to address a wide range of complex problems.
 
Professor Peter Rathjen, Deputy Vice Chancellor (Research) at the University of Melbourne says, “This will place the VLSCI within the top five life sciences computing facilities in the world by 2013.”

“Through the partnership, we will be better placed to fulfill the VLSCI’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 makeup.

“In addition it will provide leadership in training the life scientists of the future,” Professor Rathjen says.

Professor Terry O’Brien, Head of Department of Medicine at Royal Melbourne Hospital says the partnership will assist in the development of improved treatments for people suffering epilepsy.
 
 “Epilepsy is the most common serious neurological disease worldwide. Up to 40-50% of patients starting a medication for the first time for epilepsy will not achieve seizure control.”

"This partnership will provide an internationally unique opportunity to utilize the state-of-the-art computing power and information technology to develop models for predicting disease and treatment outcomes in individuals that utilize multiple pieces of genetic information."
 
"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."

"Beyond epilepsy, the analytical and methodological outcomes will broadly inform the fields of bioinformatics and pharmacogenomics with applications to many other common complex diseases."