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Dell Donates Ultra-High Speed Computers to UAlbany's RNA Institute for Enhanced Drug Discovery and Design

ALBANY, N.Y. (December 6, 2011) – The University's RNA Institute has received a donation of state-of-the-art computational equipment from Dell, Inc., which will provide the institute's researchers with greater capacity to model ribonucleic acid (RNA) for drug discovery and design.

The new high-end computer equipment will provide the Institute's researchers with extremely high computational speeds and precision in predicting the 3-D shape of RNA and imaging RNA movements in cells. RNA has shown promise in research for challenging diseases such as breast and colon cancer, neuromuscular diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and HIV/AIDS.

Dell’s computational equipment, valued at approximately $60,000, only recently became available. It will afford scientists enhanced computation and visualization of RNA molecules in three dimensional space and in cells which will aid in a better understanding of the function of RNA and how it can be targeted for drug design.

Because the computers will allow researchers to visualize known structures of RNA at the level of atoms, the scientists will also be able to predict structures of more recently discovered RNA molecules. Using high resolution imaging, the equipment offers researchers the ability to visualize molecules in cells and proteins and tap into the tissue to see how RNA moves through the cell. The new computers will also allow the Institute to move from computational and visualization on the central processing unit (CPU) to the faster, more efficient graphics processing unit (GPU).

"Dell’s generous donation will be extremely important for our work with computer modeling and computational imaging, and the visualization of molecular interactions," said Paul Agris, director of The RNA Institute. "We will achieve much more information about RNA structure and function for drug discovery and from the high resolution images of cells in microscopy, allowing us much greater ability to identify single RNA molecules as drug targets within cells."

In addition to the new computers, Dell has also donated a touchscreen monitor for the Institute's home at UAlbany's Life Sciences Research Building. Agris calls the new touchscreen "a mini-reception center." Programed by graduate students, it will aid visitors in locating individual investigators and laboratories, as well as provide a calendar of University events.

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