Innovative technology donated to Marshfield Clinic Research Institute will advance research and patient care

MARSHFIELD – A donation of a high performance computing (HPC) system to Marshfield Clinic Research Institute (MCRI) from Milwaukee Institute, Inc., will advance health care research and innovative treatment options at Marshfield Clinic Health System (MCHS).


MCHS has a long history of using research to inform and transform patient care that sets the System apart from other health care organizations. Peggy Peissig, Ph.D., director of MCRI’s Biomedical Informatics Research Center, said the HPC will transform MCRI’s ability to analyze patient health data and develop predictions that will assist physicians in identifying adverse events or ways to better care for patients.


“That means that science done in our lab can be used quickly by providers to help patients during their appointments,” Peissig said. “Patients will receive the right treatments, at the right dose, at the right time. A person suffering from a particular disease can avoid a medication that could have an adverse effect. A patient can learn if they are susceptible to a certain type of cancer based on their genetic make-up. All this and more can be determined and used more quickly than we ever could before.”


The gift will have a tremendous impact on MCRI’s ability to continue conducting groundbreaking research that ultimately improves patient care. The HPC system harnesses the power equivalent to hundreds of computers to solve problems and analyze large amounts of data more efficiently than a single computer. This will allow researchers to identify genetic variants that could influence how doctors prescribe medications, while helping health care providers analyze and integrate health data more efficiently.


“We are in the era of big data,” Peissig said. “Medicine alone has nonillions of facts surrounding diagnoses, medications, laboratory, procedures and genetics that we can analyze to unlock the mysteries of disease.”


The Milwaukee Institute is a non-profit organization that is focused on helping people learn, connect and unlock the potential of technologies and high-growth businesses in the region. After deciding to move away from providing high performance computing assistance to academic and industrial researchers, the Institute offered to donate the computing equipment to MCRI to advance its research and patient care mission.


“Our HPC system was configured for genomic and other health care related applications,” said John Byrnes, Milwaukee Institute chairman. “Marshfield Clinic is a nationally-recognized leader in genomic research, so we were pleased that the Clinic can use this equipment to expand its associative studies in a very important way.”


Marshfield Clinic has been a pioneer in applying genomics to human health. Following an important discovery by MCRI’s Center for Human Genetics in 1989 involving variations in DNA sequence among humans, researchers in Marshfield developed the Marshfield genetic maps, which are used by researchers around the world to study the human genome.


Today, the Center for Human Genetics operates the country’s first population-based genetic research project, which works with health and genetic information provided by more than 20,000 central Wisconsin residents.


“What an honor that the Milwaukee Institute selected Marshfield Clinic Health System as the recipient of this innovative technology,” said Jill Kurszewski, gift officer for research, Marshfield Clinic Health System Foundation. MCHS Foundation supports patient care, research, and education throughout the Health System.