Microsoft Portugal Extends Support to Breast Cancer Research

PORTO SALVO, Portugal — April 17, 2007 — Microsoft Portugal today launched a High Performance Computing Lab for the development of Hipercâmbio – High Performance Computing Applied to Medical Data and Bioinformatics – a project designed to support breast cancer scientific research in Portugal.

Located at the company’s head office at Porto Salvo, the main purpose of the Hipercâmbio Project, the first project emerging from the Microsoft Portugal HPC Lab, is to apply HPC technologies to breast-cancer research. Founded on a partnership between Microsoft and the University of Beira Interior, the project aims to enable the processing of high-volume medical data associated with breast cancer among Portuguese women by developing parallel and scalable processing algorithms.

With a minimum three-year duration in view, the Hipercâmbio Project – currently led by a team of four people, including two in-house Ph.D. students – is geared toward improving and providing a more accurate process for the automatic identification of breast cancer patients. By initiating this project, Microsoft Portugal marks a significant contribution to the early detection of beast cancer. Research in this field depends heavily on the ability of technology to process high volumes of medical data, and the use of HPC and parallel processing algorithms are particularly suited for this endeavor. Microsoft Portugal and the University of Beira Interior expect to arrive at the first set of scientific results, subsequently published in magazines and specialty conferences, during the second year of the project.

“The creation of the high performance computing lab combined with the launch of the first project represents a major investment on Microsoft’s part, not only furthering our commitment to scientific research, but also cementing our strong interest in ongoing operations in Portugal,” said Nuno Duarte, general manager at Microsoft Portugal. “We’re proud to develop this innovative project within Microsoft subsidiaries that will make technological tools available to scientists to assist them in their research work, ultimately bringing significant benefits to our society, developing local know-how in a highly complex computing area and leveraging the creation of a truly HPC software industry in Portugal.”

Building on the capabilities of high performance computing and its potential application to multiple complex computing areas, including the automotive industry, aero-spatial industry, finance, life sciences and earth sciences, HPC Lab represents a dual-purpose long-term investment for Microsoft Portugal. First to empower scientific research at HPC, and second to assist Microsoft partners working on this type of application development by providing them with a test site and specialized technical support.

Hipercâmbio Project

Based on the current 2-D segmentation algorithms, the Hipercâmbio Project will pioneer research and development of new algorithms for 3-D and 4-D object segmentations, toward enabling automatic detection of breast cancer.

The main tasks involved in this scientific research work at Microsoft HPC Lab are listed here:

  • 2-D, 3-D and 4-D object segmentation in breast cancer-related ultrasound data

  • 2-D and 3-D reconstruction

  • Bioinformatics – HPC deployment with Microsoft Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 of two agglomerative clustering algorithms (UniGene and d2_cluster).

HPC Lab and underlying technology

High Performance Computing (HPC) technology is based on the usage of a computer cluster specifically set up to be operated and managed as a high-performance computer. This type of configuration is based on several clusters made up of a set of computers (nodes), scalable through the addition of several nodes.

As part of its investment in this field, in August 2006 Microsoft released Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 to streamline management and reduce the total cost of ownership of computer cluster solutions supporting HPC. Windows Compute Cluster Server 2003 supports parallel applications, based on the Message Passing Interface (MPI) standard. This enables developers to benefit from the enhancements introduced in Microsoft Visual Studio® 2005, dedicated to parallel computing including support for OpenMP standard and its MPI-supporting parallel debugging capability.

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