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Faculty of Engineering

Supercomputer to boost health research

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Supercomputer to boost health researchA new supercomputer hosted at the University of Leeds is set to transform health research in the North of England.

The Health eResearch Centre (HeRC) machine is one of the first large memory computers to be deployed for healthcare research in the UK. It has 1,000 times more memory and over 100 times more power than a standard desktop computer.

By increasing the computing muscle available to health researchers across the North’s leading research universities, it will speed up analysis vital to fighting disease and allow much more ambitious projects to be undertaken.

HeRC will be hosted in the same facility at the University of Leeds as the existing N8 High Performance Computer (N8 HPC), run by the N8 group of northern research-intensive universities.

Alan Real, Advanced Research Computing Manager at the University of Leeds, said: “The challenge is to deliver the large-scale computing capability that our researchers need and to deliver this securely. Making this platform available across the N8 will allow us to pull together powerful research teams that are capable of taking on the big issues in health research.”

Funding for the computer was awarded by the Medical Research Council (MRC) to a consortium led by The University of Manchester. It will be available to research teams in the N8 universities: Durham, Lancaster, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester, Newcastle, Sheffield and York.

HeRC is one of four UK health informatics centres known collectively as The Farr Institute, with other centres in Scotland, Wales and London. The institute is working to establish the UK as a world leader in the field of health informatics research, one of today’s fastest growing areas of development within healthcare.

Professor Chris Taylor, N8 HPC Co-Director at The University of Manchester said: “This is an exciting development for N8 HPC. It allows us to support a nationally important initiative in e-Health, providing a cost-effective solution by building on the existing N8 HPC infrastructure. It also extends the capability of N8 HPC for all users – a win-win.”

Professor David Hogg, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation at the University of Leeds, said: “Facilities such as the Health eResearch Centre and the recently announced MRC Medical Bioinformatics Centre at Leeds are transforming what researchers can do and will produce region-wide benefits for science, patients and the general public.”