PR: IBM Builds Computer Grid For Breast Cancer Diagnosis And Screening

ARMONK, NY, November 28, 2001 — IBM and the
University of Pennsylvania today announced a powerful computing
Grid that aims to bring advanced methods of breast cancer diagnosis
and screening to patients across the nation, while reducing

Built with open standards, the University of Pennsylvania Grid
is a massive distributed computer that delivers computing resources
as a utility-like service over the Internet. Enabling up to
thousands of hospitals to store mammograms in digital form, the
Grid will provide analytical tools that help physicians diagnose
individual cases and identify cancer “clusters” in the population.
It will also give authorized medical personnel near-instantaneous
access to patient records and reduce the need for expensive film

“Once a patient’s mammograms are loaded into the system, they
can be evaluated with powerful tools that isolate abnormalities
very quickly by comparing current X-rays with those from previous
years,” said Dr. Robert Hollebeek, director of the university’s
National Scalable Cluster Lab.

“Traditional film X-rays of individual patients are often
scattered among various medical facilities, making them hard to
find when needed. This Grid will help ensure that all of a
patient’s vital data is provided to authorized physicians very
quickly, efficiently and securely.”

Hospitals are connected to the Grid via secure Internet portals
that al low authorized physicians to upload, download and analyze
digitized X-ray data. Advantages of the Grid include:

  • Fast data retrieval — authorized physicians have immediate
    access to a patient’s complete history of mammograms, no matter
    where or when the X-rays were taken.
  • Computer-assisted diagnosis — X-ray data can be scanned with
    powerful software that identifies potential tumors and other
    problems, helping physicians diagnose patient illnesses.
  • Pattern identification — Sophisticated algorithms can uncover
    patterns that appear in the population, such as cancer “clusters,”
    or abnormal concentrations of the disease in a particular
  • Cost savings — Each year, the average hospital spends $4
    million to develop X-ray films. Estimates indicate that
    participation in the Grid will result in an average yearly cost
    savings in the millions of dollars.
  • Training — A suite of educational tools will be deployed on
    the Grid to help doctors, medical students and interns learn more
    about breast cancer and related diseases.

Now in its early stages of deployment, the University of
Pennsylvania G rid,in collaboration with a group from Oak Ridge
National Laboratory (ACT a t BWXT), connects hospitals at the
University of Pennsylvania, University of Chicago, University of
North Carolina, and the Sunnybrook and Women’s College Hospital in
Toronto. It is funded by the National Library of Medicine.

In the future, the University of Pennsylvania will work to
extend the Grid to additional medical institutions. The design of
the system is capable of serving thousands of hospitals.

The Power of IBM eServer
The University of Pennsylvania Grid is built with a three-tier
architecture that leverages the strengths of IBM eServer and open
protocols from Globus. At the user level, each participating
hospital is equipped with a portal consisting of two IBM eServer
xSeries systems. One xSeries machine serves as a temporary
repository for the digital data, and the other is a link to the
next generation of the Internet, called Internet2.

Once the data is loaded into the portal, it is transmitted to a
metropolitan hub — an IBM eServer Cluster 1600 UNIX system. When
the Grid is fully deployed, data from several metropolitan hubs
will be funneled to a high-capacity regional hub, which is now
being prototyped with an IBM eServer 1300 Linux system.

The three-tiered system — running AIX, Linux and Windows —
illustrates the inherent heterogeneity of computing Grids.

Teams from the University of Pennsylvania and IBM are partnering
to develop an ultra-high capacity DB2 database to serve as the
secure repository for the digitized X-ray data.

IBM’s Grid Leadership
The University of Pennsylvania Grid is the latest in a series of
Grid projects that illustrates IBM’s leadership in this space.

Earlier this month, IBM was selected to build the North Carolina
Bioinformatics Grid, which will be developed in collaboration
GlaxoSmithKline Inc., Biogen, the University of North Carolina
System, Duke University and other organizations.

In August, IBM was selected by a consortium of four U.S.
research centers to build the world’s most powerful computing Grid,
an interconnected series of Linux clusters capable of processing
13.6 trillion calculations per second. The Grid system — known as
the Distributed Terascale Facility (DTF) — will enable thousands
of scientists around the country to share computing resources over
the world’s fastest research network in search of breakthroughs in
life sciences, climate modeling and other critical disciplines.

IBM is also partnering with several centers in the UK National
Grid to provide key technologies and infrastructure for the
project, which is linking a massive network of computers throughout
the United Kingdom.

In addition, IBM is building a powerful computing Grid for
universities in the Netherlands.

Open Standards
Just as electricity is delivered to homes over an electrical grid,
Computing Grids allow geographically distributed organizations to
share applications, data and computing resources. A new model of
computing, Grids are clusters of servers joined together over the
Internet, using protocols provided by the Globus open source
community (Globus.org) and other open technologies, including

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