Beyond Drug Discovery

IBM is building systems for medical research and digital medical imaging
IBM's life-sciences business unit is expanding its scope beyond developing middleware and systems for gene sequencing, toward developing systems that can let doctors query vast databases of patient information to try to determine the causes of disease.

Joseph Jasinski, worldwide operations manager for the unit, points to two recently completed projects as examples of how the division is branching out. It worked with the Mayo Clinic to digitize millions of patient records and let doctors query them to identify lists of likely candidates for studies, and it created an electronic mammogram archive with the University of Pennsylvania.

The business, formed three years ago, has about 1,000 employees with a sales force rich in Ph.D. computer scientists, chemists, and physicists, Jasinski said last week in an interview at BioSilico 2003, a conference at Stanford University. IBM this quarter will ship software that lets researchers annotate data with lab notes.