New supercomputer puts Denmark in life science's top league – University of Copenhagen

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20 December 2018

New supercomputer puts Denmark in life science's top league

Computerome 2.0

The Technical University of Denmark (DTU) and the University of Copenhagen (UCPH) invest in a new super computer for Denmark. A new giant computer - Computerome 2 - replaces the previous version. The computer is a vital resource for undertaking ambitious research projects, among other things in personalised medicine and in developing new drugs based on understanding the mechanisms of disease and their biology. Danish life science research is getting a strong basis for ongoing international collaboration, ultimately for the benefit of treating the general public.


Now that as part of the government's strategy Denmark is aiming for a place in the top international league of life science, massive investment in new technology is essential to be able to process large volumes of research data and patient data securely, flexibly and precisely.  

”Our aim in investing jointly in the new Computerome 2.0 supercomputer is to give a boost to life science research and especially to benefit patients who will in future be able to benefit from specially designed treatments, so-called personalised medicine while benefiting from fewer adverse drug reactions. We will give our researchers access to the latest technology so they can navigate to the data-intensive realities we are now seeing.  Computerome 2.0 means we can become more ambitious and tackle major research projects in Denmark and together with collaborative partners in the Nordic countries and the rest of the world," says Dean Ulla Wewer, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences at the University of Copenhagen.

"Computerome 2.0 means we can also strengthen basic research at the universities, which is crucial for being able to develop new drugs in conjunction with the pharma industry, hospitals and the Danish universities.  For example, it will be possible to compare the genomes of thousands of patients and identify the genetic changes that affect the structure of proteins and hence their cellular function.  We will be able to use this understanding to develop new forms of treatment at a very early stage of a disease pathway," says Michael Lisby, Vice Head of Department, Faculty of Science at the University of Copenhagen.

Life science benefiting from collaboration
Computerome 2 is a further refinement of the concept underlying the Computerome 1.0 supercomputer which was established in 2014 by researchers at DTU and UCPH. It was established to meet the growing demands for processing data.  Developments in data processing have gone very much faster and have outstripped many people’s expectations. Computerome 1.0 currently has around 1,300 users from the whole country and the system is worn out and ready for replacement. 

The new Computerome 2.0 supercomputer will cost around DKK 100m. In addition to DTU and UCPH, Capital Region and Region Zealand and other important players will have the opportunity to use the computer's advanced technology.

”In recent years, DTU has been increasing its educational, research and innovation offerings in healthcare technology. Early in January 2019 we shall be establishing a new department – DTU Health Technology. Our aim is to meet the needs of the community for technological solutions in the healthcare sector, to generate better opportunities for individual citizens and patients and support value creation in companies and society.  Computerome lies at the very heart of these aspirations.  DTU´s engineers will be working at the interface between biopharma, medtech and data science with hospitals and companies to produce innovative solutions,“ says Rasmus Larsen, Pro Rector, Technical University of Denmark.

Flexibility, speed and high level safety
The new computer will give scientists greater flexibility and make it possible to create virtual environments - so-called cloud technologies - to meet the needs of individual researchers.  The computer also has extensive storage and calculation capacity, high-level operational reliability, and not least, the computer provides the greatest possible security for processing sensitive data. 

One of the researchers to have been responsible for establishing the new super computer is Prof Søren Brunak, Research Director at the Novo Nordisk Foundation Center for Protein Research, UCPH: 

”We are entering an entirely new league with Computerome 2.0. We will be able to plan and participate in major research projects that demand oversight of enormous volumes of data.  Secure data processing is also absolutely essential in treating patients, where there is the prospect of being able to investigate an entire genome in just a few hours.  It will considerably enhance the quality of what we do which will also boost productivity because a computer of this calibre can be configured to resolve specific tasks very rapidly.”

 

Contact:
Steen Pedersen, Deputy Directior Technical Universty of Denmark: E: sped@dtu.dk, M::(+45) 4057 3746

Dean Ulla Wewer, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, UCPH via Head of Communication Anéh Chrstina Hajdu, M: (+45) 2122 2692

Michael Lisby, Vice Head of Department, Faculty of Science, UCPH, Mlisby@bio.ku.dk, M: (+45) 3532 2120