Center for Research Computing had a great year in 2019-2020. We expanded our reach with more users, greatly increased usage, enabled more grants and more grant dollars. We expanded our impact to more departments and documented more published papers and presentations. We added storage and computing capacity.
Read our annual report Research of Impact 2019-2020 to learn more about CRC's collaborations and support for epidemiological models and biomedical informatics research into COVID-19, as well as innovative projects in humanities, bioengineering, and more.
CRC prides itself on responsiveness, flexibility, and speed. The CRC team recently outdid itself putting together a complex set of computing resources for a COVID-19-related project for the Department of Biomedical Informatics. CRC consultant and research faculty Kim Wong started from zero late on a Friday afternoon to having the resources in place in a matter of a few hours, in close collaboration with Pitt IT,
At left: This electron microscope image shows SARS-CoV-2 (yellow)—, the virus that causes COVID-19—isolated from a patient in the U.S., emerging from the surface of cells (pink) cultured in the lab. Credit: NIAID-RML
Facing the COVID-19 pandemic, Pennsylvania policy makers called on Pitt's Public Health Dynamics Laboratory to create epidemic models used in the state's first mitigation responses. The Laboratory relied heavily on the computing resources of CRC to model millions of potential actions of individuals and groups, using of one of several priority computing allocations CRC made possible for research related to COVID-19.
When not working with CRC collaborators, research assistant professor Barry Moore ll teaches himself advanced programming languages like Haskell - while streaming his own learning sessions. Follow the live stream and find previous sessions on his Twitch channel and an archive of sessions on his YouTube channel.
Ruth Mostern, director of Pitt’s World History Center, spearheads the World Historical Gazetteer digital atlas supported by CRC. The WHG is searchable by names of places and natural features covering several thousand years, with data in multiple layers from sources linking people and events associated with places. “The gazetteer is a two-way platform for scholarly communication,” explains Mostern. “It will improve people’s own research while researchers also contribute to a growing shared resource.”
At left is the skyline of modern Istanbul, Turkey, identified in the WHG by the city's many names in different languages, and associated historical events over millennia.
Xiaosong Wang, associate professor in pathology and biomedical Informatics, leads the Computational Genomics and Translational Cancer Biology lab in the Pitt Cancer Institute. This unified computational and wet laboratory explores cancer genomics using next generation sequencing and genome profiling in a multidisciplinary approach uniting researchers in bioinformatics, genetics, and molecular and cell biology. The lab’s guiding principle is translational “bench to bedside” research – transforming genomic data into precision medicine to battle cancers, particularly breast cancer.
CRC is supporting the development and human imaging studies of a powerful new MRI technology being done by Pitt's Radiofrequency Research Facility and the 7 Tesla Bioengineering Research program led by bioengineering professor Tamer Ibrahim. The 7 Tesla scanner is one of the most powerful MRI devices in the world, able to reveal details not visible in typical MRI machines. particularly in brain markers implicated in diseases associated with aging, such as Alzheimer’s and late life depression, The lab l develops adiofrequency antennas to create even electromagnetic waves to avoid potentially dangerous heating of brain tissue, for which the team uses CRC to simulate hundreds of thousands of possible antenna configurations.
The star-nosed mole of North America and the naked mole rat of East Africa are both blind. They underwent the same adaptation to living underground, although they are different species separated by thousands of miles. Marine mammals like manatees and dolphins underwent shared adaptations to aquatic life. What could the convergence of independent physical changes reveal about the evolution of the genes responsible for those physical changes? The labs of Maria Chikina and Nathan Clark explore this evolution relying on CRC resources for computation tasks to compare rates of evolution for a gene in one species to rates of evolution for a gene in another species.