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Last modified: Thursday, September 10, 2009

“The strategy is working”

Sept. 10, 2009

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- The selection of Indiana University to lead the development of a new FutureGrid that will revolutionize the world of supercomputing has boosted the state of Indiana into the top tier of information technology and scientific research.

And the $15-million project, with $10.1 million from the National Science Foundation -- "the Academy Award of supercomputing grants" -- and the balance coming from project partners, would never have been possible without the sustained commitment among the state, Lilly Endowment and university to make Indiana one of the nation's life sciences and IT leaders, according to university officials.

"Simply put, the strategy is working," said IU Vice President for Information Technology Brad Wheeler. "This award is the culmination of a more-than-10-year strategy that has moved IU and the state from the bench to the big leagues. A true, pioneering award to conduct research on the next generation of supercomputing, it places the university in a premier position to compete for more major grants and further the growth of information technology and life sciences research across the state."

Wheeler pointed out that over the last 10 to 15 years, there have only been a few ("six, no more than eight") universities around the nation that could be expected to compete for hundreds of millions of dollars in research grants. The creation of IU's first IT strategic plan in 1998 -- commissioned by former IU President Myles Brand, approved by IU trustees and directed by current President Michael McRobbie -- along with a number of major investments by the Lilly Endowment (see timeline at: ) and state support of such high-speed computing networks as I-Light have resulted in IU joining a distinguished class of competitors for the top research computing grants.

In turn, by bringing in more high-profile grants, IU can help the state stay ahead of a rapidly growing life sciences economy and create new jobs for Hoosier workers, Wheeler said. In addition, researchers from around the state will benefit from a new, faster and more efficient network of supercomputers as they seek cures to cancer and other life-threatening diseases, and address such major global issues as energy and climate change.

As the FutureGrid develops, cancer researchers at the IU School of Medicine can run simulations on a supercomputer connected to the network and specially equipped for these types of experiments. A researcher from IU, Purdue or Ball State, who previously could share his or her scientific research via the high-speed I-Light network that connects Indiana's colleges and universities will now have even greater research capabilities through access to this next generation of cyberinfrastructure. And once the new network is established, highly enterprising students also will have more research tools at their disposal.

"Winning this grant is sure to garner attention everywhere," Wheeler said. "It really is a grand slam for the state of Indiana."