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UCSD's Collaboratory for Microscopy and Digital Anatomy Advances to Finals in Third Annual GII Awards

Industry Leaders Recognize Innovative and Results-oriented Uses of the Internet and Network Technology

Published 04/01/1998

For more information, contact:
Amy Finley, SDSC, CMDA, 619-822-0924,
Monika Liston Jo, GII Awards, 650-378-1029,

SAN DIEGO, CA -- The Collaboratory for Microscopy and Digital Anatomy (CMDA), a project designed to provide researchers remote operation of a unique electron microscope located at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), has been announced as one of six finalists in the Global Information Infrastructure (GII) Awards Next Generation Award category.

The GII Awards, a non-partisan and independent initiative, recognizes champions from all industries and sectors of society who use the Internet and network technology to produce amazing results. Vice President Al Gore has cited the Awards program as "An innovation that is vital to our country's future." GII Awards will go to individuals, businesses and organizations who are using the information superhighway in collaborative, innovative and results-oriented ways.

"CMDA deserves to be recognized as a shining example of how the Internet and network technology can be used to build a society that is stronger, healthier and more prosperous," said James D. Hake, founder and chairman of the GII Awards. "Their work offers a very encouraging picture of our future as a networked society."

The CMDA is funded by the National Institutes of Health Center for Research Resources (NCRR) and a National Challenge Grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The project is led by Mark Ellisman, a Professor of Neurosciences and Bioengineering at UCSD's School of Medicine and director of the NCRR-funded National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research (NCMIR), and is itself an example of collaborative research. NCMIR provides the project's biological and instrumentation expertise; specialists led by Sid Karin, director of the San Diego Supercomputer Center (SDSC), provide resources and expertise in system design and high performance computing; and the Program of Computer Graphics at Cornell University, directed by Donald Greenberg, is developing interactive visualization tools. This work is also furthered by the National Partnership for Advanced Computational Infrastructure (NPACI)--led by UCSD through SDSC and funded by the NSF.

"CMDA provides a glimpse into the future of a highly connected research community," said NCMIR director Mark Ellisman. "Through CMDA, biologists anywhere in the world with an Internet connection will be able to collaborate in the control of the microscope and the use high performance computing to perform image processing and analysis of images they acquire."

In October 1997, the project was featured as an example of next generation technology at Internet2's application demonstration meeting held in Washington, D.C. The meeting was attended by several Members of Congress, including Senator Bill Frist (R-TN), a heart transplant surgeon by training, who spent considerable time with Ellisman learning about the uses and advantages of CMDA. Frist chairs the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Subcommittee on Science, Technology and Space.

From an initial pool of over 800 entries from 41 states, a total of 68 entries, in 11 categories, advanced to the GII finals round. The GII Award categories are: Next Generation, Arts & Entertainment, Children, Commerce, Community, Education, Government, Health, Netpreneur, Promise, and Public Access. One winner per category will emerge from this set of finalists. Winners will be announced at the GII Awards Ceremony, Monday, April 20 in Chicago.

A complete list of the semifinalists can be found on the Awards Web site at

The GII Finals Judging panels are comprised of a cross section of recognized experts in their respective fields and leading thinkers and practitioners of the digital revolution. Finals judges include Don Tapscott, Esther Dyson, Vint Cerf, Patricia Seybold, Reed Hundt, Ann Winblad, Dr. Robert Ballard, Linda Ellerbee, Dr. Robert Kahn, and many others.

About the CMDA

CMDA is a telemicroscopy project combining the power of a unique electron microscope housed at NCMIR with high performance computing resources at SDSC for processing the microscope data. The NCMIR 400,000 volt electron microscope can obtain high magnification images of much thicker specimens than conventional instruments. Only a few of these electron microscopes are available to researchers in the United States. Because the specimen is thicker, it contains substantial three-dimensional information on, for example, the organization of mitochondria, the structure of neurons in models of Parkinson's disease, or changes in heart muscle in heart disease. The three-dimensional information is derived from a set of images obtained from different views of the specimen. The set of images are combined to obtain a three-dimensional view of the structure using a tomography process similar to the CAT and MRI techniques employed in medical imaging. The electron microscope tomography is being performed using high performance computers such as the massively parallel CRAY T3E at SDSC with an implementation developed under the NCCR funded National Biological Computation Resource at SDSC.

Until recently, researchers had to travel to NCMIR to use the microscope and perform image processing computing. The CMDA, which can also be applied to other imaging instruments, has the potential to transform centralized research facilities such as NCMIR into resources available to anyone with access to the Internet. The CMDA will enable one or more researchers located in geographically separate laboratories to work collaboratively in the collection of images as well as the processing and analysis of data from the microscope.

The current version of the CMDA is now being used in sessions with selected researchers. Although the current version employs a high-end workstation for the remote users interface, the new version--expected to be in use this summer--will provide a Web-based interface, thereby enabling many more investigators to use the system.

About the GII Awards

Called "a cross between the Oscars and the Baldrige Awards of the Internet" by USA Today, the GII Awards recognize the champions across all industries and sectors of society who are using the Internet and network technology to produce extraordinary results. The GII Awards Program is sponsored by a cross-section of private and public sector leaders including Compaq, IBM, Gateway 2000, Lucent Technologies, MCI, Tandem, UUNet, TIME Magazine, Business Week, PC Week, InternetWeek, Government Technology Magazine, Inter@ctive Week, The Red Herring, Business Wire, CommerceNet, the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, The American Film Institute, the American Medical Association, the National League of Cities, the National Education Association, the Morino Institute, the League of Women Voters and the American Library Association, and many others.

The GII Awards is produced by ZD COMDEX & FORUMS, the world's leading producer of information technology events, with products ranging from the IT industry's largest exhibitions to renowned educational programs, custom seminars and specialized vendor marketing programs. ZD COMDEX & FORUMS is a division of Ziff-Davis, Inc.

About Ziff-Davis

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