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Microsoft Research (MSR) is focused on findings ways to use computing to accelerate research breakthroughs. Earlier this week, MSR announced the availability of a cloud-based version of the National Center for Biotechnology Information’s (NCBI) BLAST (Basic Local Alignment Search Tool). Built on Windows Azure, this cloud-based version of BLAST provides a suite of programs to help biological research and is designed to search all available sequence databases for similarities between a protein or DNA query and known sequences.
BLAST is currently helping scientists at the University of Washington’s Harwood Lab on a project to identify key drivers for producing hydrogen, which is considered to be a promising alternative fuel. The researchers contacted Microsoft Research’s eXtreme Computing Group (XCG) to use the Windows Azure-based version of BLAST and dramatically saving computing time to help researcher accelerate their research.
This is an interesting example of how computing is applied to scientific challenges. For more information on BLAST on Windows Azure, read the press release or visit Microsoft Research’s site with more information about the UW project, here. Also, read a blog post on the Official Microsoft blog called Democratizing Research with the Cloud.