IBM partners with Cleveland Clinic to build on-site quantum computer | The Burn-In – The Burn-In

Quantum computing technology is still in its infancy. Researchers are working to find ways to make it useful for real-world applications. Thanks to companies like IBM, that is becoming more of a reality every day.

The company is leading the way in terms of quantum research. It has installed several of its Quantum System One machines at its facilities around the world. Now, it is branching out.

IBM and the Cleveland Clinic announced on Tuesday that they have partnered to deploy the first private sector Quantum System One machine. The ten-year partnership will give the Cleveland Clinic access to on-site quantum computing for things like medical research and data processing.

Its a major advancement for the future of commercialized quantum computing.

After a year where medical research became the hot topic on everyones mind, healthcare institutions are investing heavily to further their research capabilities. In January, Cleveland Clinic opened its new Global Center for Pathogen Research and Human Health. The facility is part of a $500 million investment from the healthcare organization and is home to a program called Discovery Accelerator.

Through the program, Cleveland Clinic and IBM will partner to leverage the power of quantum computing to address a wide variety of life science research questions. Its noteworthy that this the first time a private company is purchasing and operating an IBM quantum computer.

Dr. Lara Jehi, Cleveland Clinics chief research information officer, points to COVID-19 as an example of how the institution will use its new quantum resources. She says, what we want is to prevent the next COVID-19. Or if it happens, to be ready for it so that we dont have to, as a country, put everything on hold and put all of our resources into just treating this emergency.

We want to be proactive and not reactive, Jehi adds.

Quantum computing is poised to have a massive impact on the healthcare world in the years to come. Since quantum machines are able to handle far more data than traditional computers, they can help untangle complex problems that scientists are currently struggling to address.

The applications range from gene sequencing to pharmaceutical discovery and cancer research to clinical trial analysis. Since quantum computers are able to test multiple solutions to a problem at once, they are much faster than traditional machines.

For instance, according to the National Institutes of Health, it currently takes about 17 years from the time a new drug is discovered before it is available to patients that need it. Obviously, that is a long time to wait for life-saving or life-changing drugs. Many patients dont have time to wait.

We really need to accelerate, Jehi says, What we learned with the COVID-19 pandemic is that we cannot afford, as a human race, to just drop everything and focus on one emergency at a time.

Indeed, as the world turned its focus to COVID-19, many other problems began to skyrocket. Things like mental health, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes have been swept under the rug over the last year as the healthcare system struggles to keep up with the pandemic.

Moving forward, quantum computing will give scientists the ability to dedicate extra resources to emergent topics as they arise without compromising research in other areas.

Meanwhile, experts believe that this will help speed up medical research and allow scientists to make more discoveries each day. Treatments, cures, and preventative strategies are all on the table.

Thats because quantum computers are able to simulate vast amounts of data to create virtual test environments. IBM director of research Dario Gil says, Instead of conducting physical experiments, youre conducting them virtually, and because youre doing them virtually through computers, its much faster.

While this partnership certainly has huge implications for the Cleveland Clinic, it is equally important for IBM. As noted, this is the first time the company is installing one of its Quantum System One computers outside its own labs. This serves as a signal that the private sector may be nearing the point of readiness for wide-scale quantum computing.

Of course, the technology still needs to be developed to meet that demand.

Much of todays quantum computing is currently handled through cloud-based solutions. Companies like Goldman Sachs and Daimler use IBMs quantum computers through the cloud. This is more than enough power for most firms. However, others need the convenience and added power of a machine on-site.

What were seeing is the emergence of quantum as a new industry within the world of information technology and computing, says Gil, What were seeing in the context of Cleveland Clinic is a partner that says, I want the entire capacity of a full quantum computer to be [dedicated] to my research mission.

Of course, running a quantum computer isnt easy. To address this knowledge gap, IBM will partner with the Cleveland Clinic to provide training to its staff members and researchers. Theyll learn how to manage the system and how it can be used for research.

Since it takes time to build a new quantum computer, Cleveland Clinic will begin its partnership with IBM by using the latters quantum computing cloud. This will take place for about a year while IBM builds the organizations on-site system.

The partnership also allows the Cleveland Clinic to receive an updated quantum machine once IBM is finished developing it in the coming years. Its unclear when the more advanced system will arrive.

In the meantime, its evident that this will be a working partnership between the two organizations. Speaking about quantum computing technology, Jehi said, It naturally needs nurturing and growing so that we can figure out what are its applications in healthcare. It was important to us that we design those applications and we learn from ourselves, rather than waiting for others to develop them.

In the coming years, it will be interesting to see how Cleveland Clinic and IBM partner to impact the world of healthcare with quantum computing. Moreover, keep an eye on the advancements made using the tech since they could spur further adoption.

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IBM partners with Cleveland Clinic to build on-site quantum computer | The Burn-In - The Burn-In

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