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Third Frontier Network Propels Genome Research
Published May 2004
UC's Genome Research Institute was the host of the second demonstration
of Ohio's new Third Frontier Network (TFN), an effort to connect
hospitals and medical research labs across the state, making Ohio a
world leader in using technologically advanced networking to improve
health care research and education.
TFN-connected Ohio hospitals and medical research labs will be able to
share medical images and collaborate on research, education and service
"By linking colleges, universities, research labs and hospitals, the
Third Frontier Network will improve health care and remote medical
consultation," said Roderick G. W. Chu, chancellor of the Ohio Board of
Regents. "Critical scientific and industrial research facilitated over
the network will generate important new economic opportunity and
high-paying jobs for Ohioans."
GRI will be linked with other Ohio researchers via TFN to share
expensive instruments and educational resources for disease analysis
and treatment. For example, the network will allow researchers at one
university to view the output of a scientific instrument at a research
lab 100 miles away, reducing the time and costs currently incurred in
research and development.
Medicine requires graphically rich images for patient care, medical
education and research. These vary from photographic images of skin
conditions to MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) scans. Images showing
medical conditions in great detail require significant bandwidth when
sent across a network. In the past, collaboration with remote medical
staff has been limited by the difficulty of fully sharing medical
images over computer networks.
GRI practices a multi-layered approach to gene and protein databases to
understand, treat and prevent diseases such as cancer, diabetes,
osteoporosis and heart disease. With partners such as Procter &
Gamble Pharmaceuticals, Wright State University, Case Western Reserve
University and Cincinnati Children's, GRI has a number of on-site
resources that can be shared by other state medical facilities.
David Millhorn, GRI director, states that TFN will allow the GRI to
collaborate more effectively with other universities and industry
partners. Sharing computational and technological resources will be key
to understanding diseases, developing drug treatments, and saving time
"With the Third Frontier network, we can make the entire state a
virtual laboratory," said Dr. Millhorn. "As we continue to enhance the
research infrastructure here, many of the technologies we will offer
investigators may not reside at the GRI - they may be in Cleveland,
Columbus, some other Ohio site, or maybe even in California."
A crucial element in TFN's southwest region implementation has been its
relationship with the Cincinnati Education Research Fiber Loop (CERF),
a consortium of Cincinnati State Technical and Community College, UC,
OARnet and other southern Ohio schools. The CERF project began in 2003
with a donation from Procter & Gamble to create a dedicated set of
fiber-optic cables to be used by colleges and universities, hospitals,
K_12 schools and research labs in the Cincinnati and southern Ohio
Cincinnati State's main and Evendale campuses, as well as UC's main
campus and GRI, are online with CERF. Future participants include
Xavier University, Hamilton County and Cincinnati Public Schools
OARnet, OSC's networking division, is currently installing and testing
optical fiber switches and equipment in Cincinnati. Completion is
expected by summer 2004. The statewide TFN backbone is scheduled to be
operational by fall 2004, with colleges and universities connected by
More information on TFN is available at www.tfn.oar.net.