The Computational Analysis Facility provides access to and expertise in high-performance computers and software for biological research in the institution. The facility, located on the thirteenth floor of the Houston Main Building, provides computer network access through Ethernet connections to all components of M.D. Anderson. Initially, the facility focused on computer support for the analysis of sequence data, including supplying the requisite programs for the manipulation of such data and database-searching technology. This support is being extended to providing software and expertise for molecular modeling of sequence data. While these types of analyses are necessary for conducting research in molecular biology today, few laboratories can afford to devote a person to the full- time activities required to remain current in this yield. Moreover, even few laboratories are able to support a person to find, install, and evaluate programs in the public domain that might be critical to one phase of research. Finally, few individual laboratories can afford the software licensing fees and the special computers required for analyses such as molecular modeling. Moreover, assistance with packages that are used only occasionally in a laboratory can be better obtained by a central resource facility like the CAF. At a lower level, the facility acts as a general ombudsman for general questions on computing and computers. Traditionally, the facility has measured its use by the number of central processing unit (CPU) hours used by all users. From December, 1993 to June, 1997, individuals in 21 Anderson departments used 3,866 CPU hours. In addition, the Facility teaches a graduate course on sequence analysis with a specific format making it easy for researchers to attend only the parts relevant to their research. This and other CAF activities are advertised through a newsletter and a World Wide Web page. In the future, the Facility will extend its computer support into related areas in which specialized software running on high-performance computers may be of use to a large number of users, such as three-dimensional analysis of confocal microscopy images obtained in the Automated Cytometry and Cell Sorter Laboratory/Confocal Microscopy and Image Analysis Facility. The policies of the Computational Analysis Facility are overseen by a committee comprised of Drs. de Crombrugghe, Marsha Frazier (Gastrointestinal Oncology and Digestive Diseases), and R. Allen White (biomathematics).

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National Cancer Institute (NCI)
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