Saturday, October 22, 2005

Manchester awarded £1.9m to pioneer e-science software 

The University of Manchester has been awarded £1.9m to form part of a new institute which will pioneer the development of software designed to aid UK research. Alongside the Universities of Edinburgh and Southampton, Manchester will form part of The Open Middleware Infrastructure Institute-UK (OMII-UK).

The OMII-UK, which is funded by a £6m investment from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC), will be chaired by Professor Carole Goble from the University of Manchester's School of Computer Science.

Together, the three centres will develop software, known as middleware, to aid UK research as part of the UK's e-science programme which seeks to develop IT and grid technologies to enable new ways of doing faster, better or different research.

Manchester's work will focus on the development of the myGrid project, which since 2001 has developed a set of knowledge-rich workflow-based tools that have been widely adopted to support biomedical research. This has included research into conditions such as Grave's Disease, Williams-Beuren Syndrome and, more recently, Trypanosomiasis in cattle.

Professor Goble, said: "The formation of OMII-UK represents a major opportunity for all of the institutions involved. It creates a large pool of knowledge and expertise for us all to tap into, and means that the UK will maintain its leadership in e-Science. OMII-UK will mean we can sustain the computing infrastructure needed for our scientists. I look forward to the developments and benefits this partnership brings both to research and to the computer science community."

The Institute will represent a community of some 6000 users establishing it as one of the world's largest e-science initiatives. The University of Edinburgh is contributing expertise on data access gained through the OGSA-DAI project, which since 2002 has developed middleware that is now used worldwide to support data access and integration from diverse data sources.

The OMII at the University of Southampton was set up in 2004 to provide well-engineered e-Science middleware sourced from the e-Science community. It is working towards its third software distribution, incorporating components from partners in its managed programme.

For further information:
Simon Hunter, Media Relations Officer, telephone: 0161 2758387 or email: simon.hunter@manchester.ac.uk

Notes for editors:
Carole Goble is a Professor within the University of Manchester's School of Computer Science, which is part of the Faculty of Engineering and Physical Sciences. She is co-director of the E-Science North West Regional Centre based at Manchester.

OMII-UK Manchester grant holders are Professor Carrole Goble, Professor Norman Paton, Dr John Brooke, Dr Robert Stevens and Dr Iain Buchan.

e-Science is the science that can be carried out by pooling access to very large digital data collections, very large scale computing resources and high performance visualisation held at different sites.

A computing grid refers to geographically dispersed computing resources that are linked together by software known as middleware so that the resources can be shared. The vision is to provide computing resources to the consumer in a similar way to the electric power grid. The consumer can access electric or computing power without knowing which power station or computer it is coming from.

The UK e-Science Programme is a coordinated £230M initiative involving all the Research Councils and the Department of Trade and Industry. It has also leveraged industrial investment of £30M. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council manages the e-Science Core Programme, which is developing generic technologies, on behalf of all the Research Councils.

The UK e-Science Programme as a whole is fostering the development of IT and grid technologies to enable new ways of doing faster, better or different research, with the aim of establishing a sustainable, national e-infrastructure for research and innovation. Further information at www.rcuk.ac.uk/escience.

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