Wednesday, July 1, 2009

A virtual human

The last day of HealthGrid 2009 and I'm very excited to be listening to the current keynote speaker Peter Coveney from UCL because, as well as being Director of the Centre for Computational Science he is also a professor of Chemistry at UCL - a subject that's dear to my own heart.

Peter is working on the Virtual Physiological Human Network of Excellence which is currently coming to the end of its first year. This is a massive project, which Joel Bacquet from the European Commission also touched on yesterday during his keynote talk.

The idea behind VPH is to assemble a system that will allow investigation of the human body as a single complex system. It's a huge undertaking that would give us great prediction abilities about human functionality but requires a large amount of computing power as well as placing a huge demand on data storage and management.

VPH and grid have intersecting needs explains Peter. They both require large scale European grid infrastructure in terms of storage, computing power and bandwidth, for example, and therefore the same problems and issues are important to both communities.

VPH projects need a wide variety of resources from DEISA high performance computers to EGEE clusters. A lot of VPH projects involve parallel computations ideally suited to grids, such as EGEE

Peter also highlights the importance of burying the grid from scientists in certain cases (Carole Goble also mentioned this) and how 'urgent computing' is sometimes to needed to get important jobs done rather than waiting in a queue.

To find out more about VPH why not take a look at some recent articles written about the initiative in the Times and Pioneer magazine or listen to this podcast from the BBC's Today programme

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