Dec 29, 2008

Biosupercomputing symposium 2008 in Tokyo

The Biosupercomputing Symposium 2008 was held on 12/25 - 26 in Tokyo by RIKEN sponsorship. I found that it was the one of the most interesting HPC symposiums in Japan recently. The MY PLAZA hall in Marunouchi, Tokyo was almost full by many attendees in spite of the last business day of 2008.

This symposium was more than just for presentations about progress in RIKEN's Next-Generation Integrated Life Simulation Project targeted into the next generation supercomputer of Japan. It included a keynote, a poster session by younger researchers, and invited talks.

I am most interested in the presentation by the brain science team (a cerebral nerve system research and development team) that was added newly from this October in the project. A team leader, professor Shin Ishii, Kyoto University, introduced that their objective are to develop models and simulation software that could simulate the relationship between input and output in whole brain level at first in their long-term goals of the project, i.e., Grand Challenge.

Direct contribution to the medical treatment is out of scope because of a short project period according to Prof. Ishii's comment to an attendee's question.

There were 76 teams participating in the poster session led by young researchers studying in Japan. This may indicate that the RIKEN's Next-Generation Integrated Life Simulation Project well penetrates universities and institutes. Naoto Yamamura, RIKEN won the best poster award by "Development of the skeletal muscle simulator", and five teams won poster award.

There was a call for establishing Biosupercomputing Research Community (bscrc) by Prof. Haruki Nakamura, Osaka university. He encouraged attendees to join the bscrc as a promoter. We can apply it in the home page of Biosupercomputing Research Community.

By the way, the Next-Generation Integrated Life Simulation Project is a comprehensive modeling/simulation project for organism that anyone could not challenge before. Therefore, it becomes important to keep it visible about the integrated view with a variety of R&D components in order to enable effective interactions between project members and researchers in academic medical research centers/pharmaceutical industry.

It is often seen that the successful Japanese life sciences projects well involve both researchers in science/engineering and medical doctors in effective manner. I observe that it is similar in Europe and U.S.A, such as in Blue Brain Project. We would expect more such opportunities in Japan.

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