Mount Sinai’s Supercomputer Ushers in a New Era

Mount Sinai School of Medicine recently unveiled its new supercomputer that is helping researchers unlock the intricate mechanisms that lead to human diseases, and hasten the discovery of treatments for them. The computer, named Minerva, after the Roman goddess of wisdom and medicine, was custom-built by Patricia Kovatch, the school’s first Associate Dean for Scientific Computing.

Minerva provides 64 million hours of computation per year. It has 7,680 processing cores, a peak speed of 70,000 gigaflops, and 30 terabytes of random access memory, making it one of the nation’s highest-performing computers in academic medicine.

“With its tremendous strength and speed, Minerva enables scientists to analyze and manipulate large data sets by running longer, more complex simulations,” says Ms. Kovatch. “This state-of-the-art technology will empower Mount Sinai’s researchers to expand the boundaries of their scholarly inquiry.” The computer’s ability to provide researchers with real-time computation of advanced molecular models and a quick analysis of genomic patterns will help Mount Sinai usher in a new era of personalized and precision medicine. Eric Schadt, PhD, Director of the Institute for Genomics and Multiscale Biology, and his researchers have been using Minerva extensively in their work.

Computing power comparable to Minerva’s is available only at the most advanced research centers, says Dennis S. Charney, MD, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of Mount Sinai School of Medicine and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs of The Mount Sinai Medical Center. He adds, “The tight integration of Mount Sinai School of Medicine and The Mount Sinai Hospital means that research can be translated here into patient care more quickly and efficiently than virtually any place else.”

Minerva will work in conjunction with Mount Sinai’s Data Warehouse, which consists of clinical, operational, and financial information collected through de-identified electronic medical records (EMR) from The Mount Sinai Hospital and Faculty Practice Associates. The warehouse contains nearly 2 billion facts, and data from more than 3 million ethnically and racially diverse patients dating back to 2003. (It is compliant with HIPAA, New York State privacy and security regulations, and Mount Sinai’s Program for the Protection of Human Subjects.)

In addition, Minerva is being used to analyze data from the Mount Sinai Biobank, with its enrollment of more than 21,000 individuals who have agreed to DNA sequencing, recontact, and longitudinal studies stemming from the EMR.

Says Carlos Cordon-Cardo, MD, PhD, Chair of Mount Sinai’s Department of Pathology, “Minerva can generate complex molecular simulations and build predictive models that will enable us to stratify patients into treatment groups.” This, he adds, will allow physicians to identify the best treatments for each patient.

Plans call for Minerva to move from its current location at Mount Sinai School of Medicine, to the new Leon and Norma Hess Center for Science and Medicine when it opens later this year.

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