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Nsf-Funded Superhero Supercomputer Helps Battle Autism

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The inner workings of supercomputer Gordon.

Gordon, a completely new kind of supercomputer that uses massive amounts of flash memory, helps researchers study transcription factors that can be targeted for treatment of mental disorders.

Credit: Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

San Diego Supercomputer Center researchers have used the Gordon supercomputer to develop a way to describe a time-dependent gene-expression process in the brain that can be used to guide the development of treatments for mental disorders such as autism-spectrum disorder and schizophrenia.

The researchers used Gordon to identify the hierarchical tree of coherent gene groups and transcription-factor networks that determine the patterns of genes expressed during brain development.

The researchers found some master transcription factors at the top of the hierarchy that regulated the expression of a significant number of gene groups. The findings could be used for the selection of transcription factors that can be targeted in the treatment of specific mental disorders, according to the researchers.

"[Gordon] was designed to handle scientific problems involving the manipulation of very large data," says the U.S. National Science Foundation's Barry Schneider. "It is differentiated from most other resources we support in having a large solid-state memory, 4 GB per core, and the capability of simulating a very large shared memory system with software."

From National Science Foundation
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Abstracts Copyright © 2013 Information Inc., Bethesda, Maryland, USA


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