IBM and Massachusetts General Hospital Launch Crowdsourcing Study on Human Microbiome

NEC members IBM and Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) are joining forces to study how human microbiomes affect various diseases.

In collaboration with the Broad Institute, the University of California San Diego and the Simons Foundation’s Flatiron Institute, IBM and MGH will attempt to map the three million bacterial genes found in the human microbiome to further understand how to treat diseases such as Type 1 diabetes, Crohn’s disease, and ulcerative colitis.  Research at this level is unprecedented and a massive amount of computing power is required for analysis which is where IBM’s “citizen science” World Community Grid enters the picture.  The World Community Grid is a hyper-secure software that can gauge when a personal computer has processing power to spare and then remotely run experiments for the project. Anyone with internet can chose to contribute to the study by joining the Microbiome Immunity Project through IBM’s World Community Grid.

“This type of research on the human microbiome, on this scale, has not been done before,” said Ramnik Xavier, co-director of the Infectious Disease and Microbiome Program at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and chief of the gastrointestinal unit at MGH. “It’s only possible with massive computational power.”

The New England Council congratulates IBM and MGH for being a part of this innovative project and wishes them luck in their research.  Read more in Boston Magazine and in the Boston Business Journal.

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