Fiber-Optic Network Is Finished, Boosting Data Transmission 1,000-Fold between UB and Research Partners

Release Date: July 13, 2004 This content is archived.


BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Approximately 12 miles of new fiber-optic cable has been constructed by the University at Buffalo and over the next few weeks will be "lit," enhancing high-speed data links between UB's campuses and with affiliated research institutions, an essential step toward creation of a life-sciences economy for the region.

The Bioinformatics Network Initiative, as the UB effort is called, will increase 1,000-fold the speed with which massive amounts of research data are transmitted between UB and the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus.

It also will allow UB's affiliated research institutions -- Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute (HWI), Roswell Park Cancer Institute, UB's Research Institute on Addictions and the New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences -- to boost by a factor of 1,000 the speed with which they can send data to scientific teams around the world with which they collaborate.

"The lighting of the fiber-optic cable is truly a momentous occasion for UB's New York State Center for Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences and for our research partners at the Roswell Park Cancer Institute and the Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute," said UB President John B. Simpson. "This latest vital link in our ongoing chain of progress is deeply significant as we continue to move forward with the groundbreaking, collaborative biomedical research that will help to foster a strong life sciences economy in the Buffalo-Niagara region.

"In marking the official activation of this fiber-optic connection, we also celebrate the nexus of innovative research partnerships that link UB with the region's other leading biomedical research institutions, as well as the outstanding network of governmental, community and regional support that has made this progress possible."

At Hauptman-Woodward Medical Research Institute, for example, scientists will be able to provide results of experiments to investigators around the world in minutes rather than weeks.

"This network will have a huge impact on HWI," said George DeTitta, Ph.D., executive director of the institute and UB professor of structural biology.

DeTitta explained that HWI works with more than 600 scientific investigators -- at institutions around the globe, as well as in Western New York -- who use techniques developed at HWI to study the molecular structures of proteins involved in a broad range of diseases.

Each of these investigators routinely sends proteins to HWI, where highly trained laboratory technical staff execute 1,536 crystal growth experiments per protein and then use digital photomicroscopy to follow the results of these experiments.

Typically, DeTitta explained, each protein produces more than 12,000 photomicrographs that have to be transmitted back to the investigators.

"We used to have to wait a month to accumulate all the results, put the images on a CD and send them back to the investigators," said DeTitta, "but now, we will be able to make them available within minutes of their completion."

By building its own fiber-optic infrastructure, UB will be able to increase capacity whenever it needs to, explained Voldemar A. Innus, UB vice president and chief information officer.

"This network positions us to respond to increasing demand in a much shorter timeframe, while at the same time avoiding significant cost increases," he said.

Innus added that this is the first example in the state where an academic institution has built its own fiber-optic network that will be used collaboratively with its research partners, providing a vital link for the life sciences initiative.

The network extends from UB's North (Amherst) Campus to its South (Main Street) Campus, and to the Buffalo Niagara Medical Campus running in the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority Metro Rail tunnel and in above-ground and underground locations approved by the City of Buffalo.

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