Boosting Network Performance
Information technology is playing an increasingly significant role in all facets of today's world, including scientific research. The National Science Foundation recently announced a new research collaboration to develop software that automatically tunes network protocols in computer operating systems to fully exploit available network bandwidth. NSF has given a three-year, $2.9 million award to the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center, the National Center for Atmospheric Research, and the National Center for Supercomputing. "The purpose of this effort is to improve end-to-end performance for application scientists without them having to be advanced network researchers," says Aubrey Bush, division director, Division of Advanced Networking Infrastructure and Research, NSF. The goal is to give scientists desktop access to transmission rates of 100 million bits per second (Mbs). According to NSF, while many researchers have access to networks with peak performance of 100 Mbs or greater, actual rates may be much lower due to inefficiency related to the user's network protocol operating system settings. Bush says, "Alpha testing of version 1.0 of the software is now under way with users giving feedback. The software will be ready for beta testing the first quarter of 2001. Software tools to blend the applications under Linux and other operating systems will be the third phase of product development."
Honing Genomics Tools
The recent growth in genomics has created the need for cutting-edge research tools. Corning Inc. in Corning, N.Y., and the Whitehead Institute for Biomedical Research in Cambridge, Mass., have signed an agreement to promote development of new technologies and tools for life science research. This $10 million collaboration will align Corning's material sciences and manufacturing processes
expertise with the Whitehead Institute's biomedical research capabilities. According to Joe Fredette, director of marketing, Corning Microarray Technology, "This will be a general alliance in the area of DNA microarray technology and proteomics that will evaluate new assay technology and advance product design." Collaborators anticipate that the first results of the four-year alliance will be products enabling gene expression analysis. The principal investigator will be Whitehead's Rick Young, whose lab is focused on how human cells respond to infection. Investigators will focus on a wide range of diseases, including cancer, AIDS, and life-threatening fungal and bacterial illnesses. "Corning is developing research tools for this new era of genomics and proteomics. These tools are enabling scientists to accelerate discovery of new disease targets that will lead to enhanced drugs and vaccines and to better health. The microarray platform is the beginning of a collaboration that will fan out to other research platforms as well."