Injecting supercomputers into drug research

Xia Ning, PhD, associate professor of Biomedical Informatics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine and associate professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the Ohio State College of Engineering, has a large portfolio of research projects at the university that focus on understanding how artificial intelligence can be used to solve issues in health care. 

One of Dr. Ning’s main goals is to discover new drugs to treat disease. Since discovering a single drug is costly and time consuming, she is drawing on her expertise in computer science and biomedical informatics to create a new path to drug discovery. Her lab examines millions of small molecules and uses that information to create novel models that could be strong candidates for drugs. 

“In order to learn from millions and millions of chemical structures, we need a lot of computational power,” said Ning.

That is why the Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) (external link) is integral to the project. Each of Ning’s model requires the use of one graphical processing unit (GPU) and 96 GB of RAM for the data generated. This offers a significant boost in computing power.

OSC features GPUs across its systems to allow clients to efficiently process large amounts of data, and consistently upgrades its hardware to ensure access to the most cutting-edge technologies. 

Those computing resources have helped Ning reach important milestones in her drug discovery work. Read more about these research findings (external link), which have been accepted for publication in the prestigious journal Nature Machine Intelligence and also have attracted new grant funding to the lab.