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Champions LS apps TurboGenomics

March 7, 2002

TurboGenomics Inc.
Andrew H. Sherman, Ph.D.
Vice President, Operations

Challenge Is Dealing with Data Explosion

What is the history of your organization’s involvement in life sciences?
: TurboGenomics was founded two years ago specifically to develop high-performance computing solutions for the life sciences. With many years of experience in parallel and distributed computing, the founders of the company recognized the outstanding fit between the needs of the life sciences community and their own proven supercomputing technologies.

What is your vision for the development of the life sciences market?
: I and my colleagues at TurboGenomics share the widely held view that “in silico” analysis is going to be an increasingly important best practice in the life sciences. With the exploding quantities of data that need to be analyzed, it is clear that high-performance computing solutions are going to be crucial. At TurboGenomics, we have the chance to help our customers combine our computing technology with their life sciences R&D to have a tangible, positive impact on people everywhere through improvements in clinical medicine. As a Ph.D. computer scientist, I’ve spent nearly 30 years working on the cutting edge of high performance technical computing applications in the life sciences and other fields, and I’ve never encountered a more unique and compelling opportunity.

What organizational assets have you developed to serve this community?
: We have a core group of computer scientists with deep, long-term experience in high-performance computing, dating back to the first vector computers nearly 30 years ago. They’ve been involved in parallel computing since the mid-’80s. We’ve combined that core group with additional staff and advisors who really understand the life sciences market, including Dr. Greg Gardiner, who spent nearly 25 years in research management and licensing at Pfizer and Yale University before joining us as CEO; Dr. Perry Miller, director of the Yale Center for Medical Informatics; and Dr. David Ward, a well-known Yale geneticist and a member of the National Academy of Sciences.

What products and services does your company provide to the life sciences market?
: During 2000, we released TurboBLAST™, our parallel implementation of the widely used BLAST search program. TurboBLAST delivers tremendous time and cost savings for life science laboratories performing large numbers of BLAST searches (and, at this point, that’s just about all of them). It is unique in its ability to achieve these savings automatically on heterogeneous clusters of computers, ranging from desktop PCs, Macintosh computers, and Unix workstations, all the way up to multiprocessor supercomputing servers, such as the high-end machines in the IBM eServer and xServer lines.

Another important aspect of TurboBLAST is that it uses the ordinary, unmodified NCBI BLAST program to do the actual search computations, so the results are identical to what users are used to seeing. And, updates to new versions of BLAST can usually be performed easily by end-users without our involvement. We’ve also designed TurboBLAST so that it can be invoked from a command line or through a Web browser in exactly the same way as NCBI’s BLAST program, eliminating any learning curve and training costs for our users.

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