Cleveland Clinic has struck a new partnership with technology giant IBM to turbocharge its research activities over the next decade.
The 10-year collaboration will create a joint center — called the Discovery Accelerator — which will provide a space for researchers and IT experts to work together, leveraging technology to support and advance research at Cleveland Clinic’s Global Center for Pathogen Research & Human Health.
Formed in January through a $500 million investment from the state of Ohio, JobsOhio and Cleveland Clinic, the new center focuses on research into emerging pathogens and virus-related diseases.
But the researchers needed a technology partner to propel their work, said Dr. Lara Jehi, chief research information officer at Cleveland Clinic, in a phone interview.
“This is what the Discovery Accelerator is bringing to us,” she said. “It is bringing us a set of tools that IBM is providing to accelerate the technology piece of this [research work].”
IBM Quantum System One
Specifically, IBM will be providing a set of artificial intelligence tools, hybrid cloud services and quantum computing, said Anthony Annuniziata, director of the IBM Quantum Network, in a phone interview. The partnership will include the first private sector installation of the IBM Quantum System One in the U.S. The implementation will take place in the early part of next year.
“The way to think about a quantum computer is as a…very capable type of acceleration device,” Annuniziata said. “It operates on quantum principles, unlike all the computers we know of today which are [based on] ones and zeros, are binary systems. Quantum computers are not so constrained. As they mature, we expect [they will] be able to solve problems that are essentially intractable today.”
Cleveland Clinic researchers will be able to use the quantum computing technology immediately, but its full potential will only be realized over the years as it matures, he added.
For example, you could currently run a small-scale molecular simulation on the IBM Quantum System One, and though the output is not yet useful for finding candidate molecules for drugs, you can use the system to study approaches to drug development, Annuniziata explained.
Cleveland Clinic and IBM have big plans for this technology and will use it to advance research in several arenas, beginning with genomics and pathophysiology.
“Our researchers…now are stuck with the sequencing data that they are getting — those are really big data sets [and] take a really long time to process and analyze,” said Cleveland Clinic’s Jehi. “Having access to high-performance computing, the cloud and the AI capabilities, will really accelerate [their work.]”
Another key use of these technologies will be identifying drugs that can be repurposed for treating different conditions.
It’s not just the research work that will get a boost as a result of the new partnership. The researchers themselves will benefit from new professional development opportunities, Jehi said.
“We will have programs to teach people the skillsets that they need so that they can use this technology of the future,” she said. “It is a very important piece of this puzzle that we are putting together at the Cleveland Clinic to do research better, faster and in a more innovative way.”
Photo: Gerasimov174, Getty Images, IBM

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