posted on November 14, 2014

MSI Principal Investigator Jian-Ping Wang (Electrical and Computer Engineering, College of Science and Engineering) led a team that developed the z-Lab, a device that may eventually help physicians diagnose serious ailments with just a drop of blood. Z-Lab has won a $120,000 prize from the Nokia Sensing XCHALLENGE. The device detects biomarkers in the blood sample and identifies those that are associated with disease.

Several news outlets have published this story:
Minnesota Daily

Professor Wang uses MSI for theoretical studies of the electronic structure of various materials. This work complements lab experiments.


posted on November 10, 2014

Professor Harry Orr, an MSI Principal Investigator from the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology (Medical School) has been elected to the National Academies’ Institute of Medicine. Election to the IOM is one of the highest honors in the field of health and medicine.

Professor Orr’s research is involved with the genetics of human immunity and neurodegenerative diseases. He has been using MSI’s next-generation sequencing tools for genetic studies of spinocerebellar ataxia type 1, a condition that affects movement and can involve other problems.

You can read more about Professor Orr’s work and this award on the U's Health Sciences website.


posted November 7, 2014

MSI’s newest supercomputer, an HP system, now has a name: Mesabi.

The Mesabi Range is the largest of the four major iron deposits in northern Minnesota that collectively make up the area known as the Iron Range. It is the chief deposit of iron ore in the U.S. The name comes from an Ojibwe word meaning “immense mountain.” This name also ties in with an informal term for supercomputers, “Big Iron.”

Three people independently nominated “Mesabi” as the name for our new machine during MSI’s New Supercomputer Naming Contest. We had over 140 nominations. A group of staff members selected the top five names, and these finalists were voted on by the entire MSI staff to select the final winner.

The three nominators were:
Aaron Barnes
Paul Lindstrom
an anonymous nominator

Thanks to everyone who participated in the naming contest.

See the Status Page for Mesabi's installation and testing.



posted on October 30, 2014

In conjunction with the Zooniverse@UMN initiative, MSI is pleased to announce a Request for Proposals soliciting project proposals from U of Minnesota-affiliated research groups that have text-based projects that would benefit from hundreds of thousands of online volunteers transcribing or metadata tagging your digitally imaged collection.

The Zooniverse is home to wildly successful projects that use crowdsourcing to advance scientific research. MSI has supported a project called Ancient Lives, which uses the help of amateurs to translate the Oxyrhynchus papyri, a collection that consists of over 500,000 fragments dating from 150 BCE and is held at Oxford University (U.K.).

The proposal due date window is November 24 - December 15, 2014. Please note that the Expression of Interest is not required.

Questions should be addressed to

Download the Request for Proposals.

See more about Zooniverse projects.


posted October 23, 2014

In an article that appeared this week in the journal PLoS Medicine, Assistant Professor Katy Kozhimannil and her colleagues studied rates of cesarean sections in hospitals across the U.S. The results indicate that variations in these rates may have more to do with the hospitals’ culture rather than the health of the mother. More research is needed to further confirm these results.

Professor Kozhimannil is in the Division of Health Policy and Management in the School of Public Health. She uses MSI resources for her research into the quality of childbirth-related care and other women’s health services in the U.S. This research uses large databases and resource-intensive analyses using SAS.

The article can be read on the PLoS Medicine website. It has received attention from a number of news sources, including Medical News Today, the Pioneer Press, the Star Tribune, KSTP-TV, and WCCO-TV.