News Archive

Keck Foundation Awards UCSD $1 Million Grant to Establish Two SDSC Satellite Sites

Published 07/19/1999

Media Contact: David Hart, SDSC, 858-534-8314, 858-534-5113 (fax),

The W.M. Keck Foundation of Los Angeles, which has a long history supporting biomedical research, has awarded $1 million to the University of California, San Diego, to fund the establishment of two state-of-the-art satellite sites linked to UCSD's San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC) to support interdisciplinary biomedical research.

The two SDSC satellite sites, one each in UCSD's Division of Natural Sciences and the School of Medicine, will serve as biomedical research extensions of the SDSC for the analysis of molecular and cellular structure and function.

The sites will support interdisciplinary work across different levels of biological structure in a new kind of interactive, collaborative laboratory. Through this high-speed virtual laboratory, researchers at different sites will be able to simultaneously explore 3-D models and remotely access instruments and data.

Over the last 20 years, science has rapidly increased its ability to capture more information across the biological spectrum-from sequence and structure data describing DNA and proteins, to internal cellular structure data captured by electron microscopy to data on the cellular organization of the heart and brain. The capabilities to acquire and store this information continue to grow exponentially.

Linking data acquisition resources with tools for advanced computational analysis and data exploration will allow important interdisciplinary work across different levels of biological structure. The Natural Sciences satellite will serve as a focal point for molecular explorations and a crossroads for connecting advanced computational and data resources, data collection devices and tools for multidimensional visualization. The School of Medicine site will provide a nexus for both human and electronic interconnections linking biomedical scientists to data about biological structure and function.

The co-principal investigators for the satellite sites are SDSC senior fellows Susan Taylor, J. Andrew McCammon, and Mark Ellisman. Taylor chairs the Executive Committee of the Center for Research in Biological Structure (CRBS), which will serve as the organizing umbrella for the initiative. Taylor is also a professor in the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry and a member National Academy of Sciences. J. Andrew McCammon holds the Joseph E. Mayer Chair in Theoretical Chemistry and has a joint appointment in the School of Medicine. Mark H. Ellisman is professor of Neuroscience and Bioengineering and the director of the CRBS.

Both sites will be staffed by senior scientists and postdoctoral fellows with experience in both computational and biological sciences. The two satellites will be connected to each other and to SDSC resources by a very-high-speed network.

A second $1 million award from Keck to UCSD has been given to Partho Ghosh of UCSD's Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry under the Keck Foundation's new Distinguished Young Scholars in Medical Research program.

The San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC, is a research unit of the University of California, San Diego, and the leading-edge site of the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI,, which unites 46 universities and research institutions to build the computational environment for tomorrow's scientific discovery