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Cleveland Clinic to lead quantum computing research initiative

Cleveland Clinic and IBM Quantum are partnering in a quantum computing research initiative to bring innovative solutions to healthcare.
By admin
Oct 30, 2023, 8:57 AM

Wellcome leap, a nonprofit dedicated to healthcare technological innovation, has tagged Cleveland Clinic to lead a quantum computing research initiative and work closely on a second quantum research project, Algorithmiq, both in partnership with IBM Quantum.  

The contracts were secured through Wellcome Leap’s Quantum for Bio Challenge, which has pledged to grant up to $40 million to 12 researchers from across the globe who are focusing  on advancing the evolution of quantum computing tailored toward the healthcare sector.  

Quantum computers are “expected to emerge in the next 3-5 years,” according to the press release, and Wellcome Leap wants to award research teams that can showcase proof-of-concept quantum applications with potential for scalability to more expansive quantum systems.  

Selected research teams could secure as much as $40 million in grants. Additionally, Wellcome Leap is offering $10 million challenge prizes to teams that showcase potential scalability to larger quantum systems.  

Partners in quantum computing

Cleveland Clinic and IBM Quantum began partnering in 2021 on accelerating biomedical research through quantum computing and artificial intelligence. Earlier this year, IBM Quantum installed its first quantum system created for healthcare on Cleveland Clinic’s main campus.  

Cleveland Clinic and IBM are set to jointly oversee one project, while also collaborating with Algorithmiq on another: 

  • Protein prediction: IBM Quantum and Cleveland Clinic will research and develop quantum algorithms  to discern how these might pave the way for comprehensive, scalable techniques that can predict protein structures faster than we can now and with more accuracy. By understanding protein structures and their functions and interactions, researchers hope to gain insight into how diseases come to be and to effectively combat them. 
  • Cancer treatment and prevention: IBM Quantum and Cleveland Clinic, in partnership with Algorithmiq, will develop computational tools that will explore  ways that quantum computing could be used to help create photon-activated drugs for the treatment of cancer. This project will harness Algorithmiq’s flagship drug discovery platform, Aurora, powered by IBM’s quantum hardware, and Cleveland Clinic’s vast knowledge in curating relevant drug applications demonstrably beneficial for exhibiting a quantum edge. 

Quantum computing and its implication for healthcare

Quantum computing has the ability to transform the way we diagnose diseases, create new drugs, and even revolutionize healthcare IT.  

But what’s the difference from the computers we have today? The essential difference lies in qubits. Modern computers process information using bits—sequences of electrical or optical signals that signify either 1s or 0s. Every digital activity boils down to long chains of these binary units.  

Conversely, quantum computers utilize qubits, which are typically rooted in subatomic particles, like electrons or photons. Unlike bits that are either in a 0 or 1 state, qubits can exist in a combination of both 0 and 1 states simultaneously. By existing in multiple states simultaneously, quantum computers can process vast amounts of data at unprecedented speeds.  

A 2019 study from Google showed that their quantum computer could solve a problem in 200 seconds that would take the most advanced computer 10,000 years. While promising, experts say quantum computers won’t be functionable at scale until 2040.  

Quantum computers, with their ability to perform many calculations simultaneously, can also simulate molecular interactions at a much deeper and accurate level. This can drastically reduce the time and cost of drug development by predicting which drugs are likely to work before they’re ever synthesized in the lab. 

As we harness the power of qubits, we stand on the brink of a new era where computing meets biology, potentially transforming healthcare as we know it. 

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