President A.P.J Abdul Kalam will Friday inaugurate the world's first state-of-the-art centre of excellence in medical bioinformatics here.
Jointly established and managed by the Centre for DNA Fingerprinting and Diagnostics (CDFD) and Sun Microsystems Inc, the centre will carry out advanced research in bioinformatics.
It will develop genetic data and focus on drug discovery and gene therapy related research using a network of computers in a grid system.
While CDFD has brought its expertise in bioinformatics, Sun has chipped in with its expertise in high performance computing.
The centre will also serve as a national node for Asia-Pacific Bioinformatics Network (APBioNet) to promote bioinformatics education with connectivity to similar centres of excellence across the globe.
In this $5 million collaborative initiative, Sun Microsystems is investing $4 million and the remainder is to be provided by CDFD and the Andhra Pradesh government.
CDFD director Syed Hasnain told a news conference that the centre would create a database on infectious diseases and genetic disorders with focus on tuberculosis, the synergy between tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS and gastric disorders.
He said TB was being given priority as India accounts for the highest number of deaths from the disease in the world. CDFD has already developed a database to help identify ancient forms of TB or modern day, more virulent forms.
The centre's location in India is also significant as it is the only country, apart from Brazil, which offers diverse genetic profiles. Eighty percent of genetic disorders in the world are found among poor people.
Describing the centre as a milestone in the history of eight-year-old CDFD, Hasnain said the agreement for it was signed by the Andhra Pradesh government and Sun Microsystems three years ago in the US.
The centre would also have a national telemedicine utility to network with hospitals and pharma companies to accelerate the process of drug discovery. It would network with 12 other centres of excellence in biology created by Sun all over the world.
"As a Sun centre of excellence, CDFD joins Sun's community of research institutions developing advanced technology in computational biology and bioinformatics in the post-genome age," said Bhaskar Patnaik, managing director of Sun Microsystems India.
"Sun technologies will help set up one of the world's largest genetic databases, enabling scientists to share and participate in bioinformatics research globally," he said.