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AT&T Foundation donates $1 million to biomed research group
August 13, 2007

San Antonio Business Journal

The Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research (SFBR) received a $1 million gift from the AT&T Foundation that will allow the research institute's AT&T Genomics Computing Center to double the power and speed of its "computer ranch."

SFBR's computer ranch is the world's largest cluster of computers linked together for genetic analysis.

The $1 million gift will allow the foundation to update the center's networking system, make improvements in power supply and purchase 375 new four-processor Opteron-based computers.

Once completed, the computer ranch will be expanded from the current 1,500 processors working in parallel to 3,000.

SFBR uses its Genomics Computer Center to hunt for genes that influence a person's susceptibility to complex human diseases, such as heart disease, diabetes, brain disorders and cancer.

"What this means for human health is that we're now even better equipped for success in finding genes and genetic mutations that put us at greater risk for -- or help protect us from -- a wide array of complex diseases," SFBR scientist and AT&T Genomics Computing Center Director John Blangero says. "And the sooner we can identify those genes, the sooner they can become the targets of new methods of disease prevention and treatment."

SFBR officials first opened its AT&T Genomics Computing Center in 2003 with major contributions from the SBC Foundation, the predecessor of the AT&T Foundation. SBC and AT&T later merged to form San Antonio-based AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T).

SFBR also received a separate $300,000 gift from the Elizabeth Huth Coates Charitable Foundation to help fund the Illumina 1G Genetic Analyzer, a device which local researchers are calling the next-generation genome sequencing technology.

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