Researchers from Oklahoma State University in Tulsa were the first to utilize the new Tandy Community Supercomputer in Tulsa, crunching data in minutes rather than hours or days.
Dr. Brek Wilkins, a post-doctoral research associate at OSU Center for Health Sciences, used the supercomputer on July 3 to refine a software technology he has developed as a result of his dissertation research to predict the onset of heart attacks.
The supercomputer is able to conduct calculations at a rate more than 100 times faster than a desktop computer. For Wilkins, that meant computations that normally take 20-30 minutes were finished in less than a minute. Wilkins was also able to complete calculations from 24-hr EKG data that were impossible on his desktop computer in about five minutes with the Tandy supercomputer.
“The supercomputer will help in initial stages of our research projects where large amounts of data storage and processing are needed. But what’s most exciting is the ability to use the Tandy supercomputer to help us refine OSU-CHS research at more advanced stages and turn it into commercial technologies that individuals can use,” said Wilkins, whose laboratory is housed at the OSU-Tulsa Helmerich Research Center. “For example, we’ll be able to refine our research that highlights the link between sleep apnea and diseases such as hypertension, heart disease and stroke to a point where it can be included in the at-home sleep apnea monitor we are developing.”
OSU-Tulsa and OSU Center for Health Sciences President Howard Barnett praised the researchers for taking a lead role in utilizing the supercomputer for research activities that will have a lasting impact on the state’s economy.
“The researchers at OSU Center for Health Sciences and OSU-Tulsa are leading the way on innovative projects that have the potential to impact all of us in everyday applications,” said Barnett. “We are committed to applied research that will have direct impact in Oklahoma and to be able to utilize the supercomputer to speed up the timelines on our scientific endeavors.”
George Louthan, director of the Tandy Supercomputing Center at the Oklahoma Innovation Institute, said the research conducted by OSU and other universities will enable further economic development in Tulsa and will have an impact on businesses throughout the state.
“The Tandy Supercomputing Center is a national model for public and private research partnerships,” said Louthan. “This collaborative effort fosters an environment where research institutions like OSU-Tulsa can partner with private enterprises on research efforts that will dramatically impact Oklahoma’s reputation as a leader in science and health care innovations.”
Wilkins has been working on the heart attack prediction research with Dr. Bruce Benjamin, interim vice provost of graduate programs at OSU-CHS. Their research interests focus on cardio-respiratory diseases and disorders, in particular, finding ways to identify the earliest signs and symptoms of cardiac ischemia and sleep apnea before a patient experiences a heart attack.
“One of the greatest challenges we face in the battle against cardiovascular and respiratory diseases and disorders is identifying at-risk people early so they can begin preemptive treatment,” said Benjamin. “In many cases, if a patient is diagnosed early and begins treatment, a catastrophic event like a heart attack can be prevented. By utilizing the Tandy Supercomputer, we can conduct the research necessary to develop this technology so that we can begin diagnosing and treating these patients much earlier.”
Wilkins is also working with Rupesh Agrawal, from the OSU Technology Development Center, to develop the computer software to the point where it can be commercialized for use in physicians’ offices and at home by at-risk individuals.
“Our ultimate goal is to develop a product that is commercially viable and will be useful for physicians in patient disease prognosis, diagnosis and treatment,” said Agrawal. “Utilizing the supercomputer will increase the speed of our clinical research and help us reach that goal in a significantly shorter amount of time.”
The Tandy Supercomputing Center is an initiative of the Oklahoma Innovation Institute, a not-for-profit corporation committed to building the economy in the Tulsa region, and the Tulsa Research Partners, which includes OSU-Tulsa and OSU-CHS, University of Tulsa, University of Oklahoma-Tulsa and Tulsa Community College.