Study on the role of mediator complex in gene expression in collaboration with SciNet

September 10, 2019 in for_press, for_researchers, frontpage, in_the_news, news, science, success_story, Testimonials

For the last two years, SciNet has been collaborating with PhD candidate Alejandro Saettone from the Fillingham lab from Ryerson University. One of the research projects, which also involved the group of Dr. Ronald Pearlman at York University, deciphered some aspects of the mediator complex’s role in transcription and gene expression using the model organism Tetrahymena thermophila. See the EurekAlert! story on the matter, or the original paper in Current Biology.

The collaboration of SciNet’s Dr. Marcelo Ponce and Alejandro Saettone led to the development of the RACS (“Rapid Analysis of ChIP-Seq data”) pipeline, which serves to analyze data obtained from Chromatin Immunoprecipation followed by next generation Sequencing experiments (ChIp-Seq for short). The paper on this computational pipeline has been recently accepted for publication in BMC BioInformatics. The RACS pipeline, a set of bash shell scripts and R scripts, is open-source software available as a git repository at

The RACS pipeline has been quite fruitful, having already resulted in two papers where it was applied to data from the model organism Tetrahymena thermophila. The pipeline is expected to result in a few more papers analyzing further data, and there are plans to make it suitable to target more general cases.

Alejandro Saettone: “Our group was very fortunate to collaborate with Dr. Ponce from SciNet. He helped our lab to solve bioinformatic problems involving big data. With this collaboration, we were able to advance knowledge in chromatin remodeling and gene expression.”

Learn more about SciNet’s research and opportunities to establish research collaborations visiting our research website.

SciNet Receives HPCwire Award

December 6, 2018 in blog, for_press, for_researchers, for_users, frontpage, in_the_news, news, Road_to_Niagara, success_story

We are very proud that SciNet has received the 2018 HPCwire Editor’s Award for Best Use of HPC in Physical Sciences. The award was announced at the 2018 International Conference for High Performance Computing, Networking, Storage and Analysis (SC18), in Dallas, Texas.

SciNet used Lenovo and Mellanox technologies on the new Niagara cluster to create spatial resolution models of the Pacific Ocean, helping to validate ocean waves movement and to assist in global warming calculations. These calculations were performed by a team of scientists involving University of Toronto’s Prof. W. Richard Peltier, University of Michigan oceanographer Prof. Brian Arbic, and NASA JPL’s Dr. Dimitris Menemenlis. More on this calculation can be found here.

This calculation was part of the “early science” program of the Niagara supercomputer at the SciNet HPC Consortion. In this short period in March of 2018, a number of scientists were given the opportunity to perform “heroic” calculations. These large scale calculation were essential to test, to tune and to get Niagara ready for use as a Canada’s fastest national academic supercomputer.

SciNet concludes its biggest-ever training week in scientific, high performance, and data science computing

June 19, 2018 in blog-general, for_educators, for_press, for_researchers, for_users, frontpage, news, success_story

When summer arrives, it means the return of Ontario’s Summer School on Scientific and High Performance Computing. This annual set of educational events bring together graduate students, undergraduate students, postdocs and researchers and gives them an opportunity to learn and share knowledge and experience in technical computing, data science and biomedical computing on modern high-performance computing platforms.

The summer school has been given at three locations for the last seven years and is a collaborative effort of the three High-Performance Consortia in Ontario: SHARCNET, CAC, and SciNet. This year, the first was from May 28 to June 1 in London, while the second one was hosted by SciNet on the St. George campus of the University of Toronto from June 11 to 15, and the third will take place in Kingston from July 30 to August 3.

HPC Python session at the 2018 summer school

High Performance Computing with Python (“Parallel Python”) Session at the 2018 Ontario HPC Summer School in Toronto

The format of the school is that of a five-day intensive workshop with mixed lectures and hands-on sessions on a number of selected topics. The topics slightly vary by location, but may include shared memory programming, distributed memory programming and general purpose graphics processing unit programming, and Python, R, machine learning, neural networks, visualization, debugging, bioinformatics and bioimaging. To make all these topics fit in one week, the lectures are organized in different streams. In Toronto, there was a high performance computing stream, a data science stream, and a biomedical stream, given by instructors from SciNet, SHARCNET, and CAMH.

group photo HPC Summer School in Toronto

Group Photo of the 2018 Ontario HPC Summer School in Toronto

This year was SciNet’s biggest summer school yet. For the first time, there were more than two hundred participants, from widely varying academic background like Business Administration, Dentistry, Biology, Medicine, Economics, Health Sciences, Phyics, Chemistry, Engineering, and Astronomy. Those who attended at least three days received a certificate of attendance.

To get a sense of the tremendous growth of this event, consider that in 2012, one of the first years of the summer school, in Toronto, we had 35 participants in the summer school, issued 20 certificates, and a total of 400 contact-hours were delivered by a handful of instructors. In 2018, these numbers are 7 to 10 times larger: there were 211 participants, 135 certificates were issues, and 3800 contact-hours were delivered by 17 instructors. If that is not a clear enough indication of the demand for this kind of training, consider this: within one day of opening the registration, there were over 100 registrations, and just one week later, the 200 registration mark was crossed. There were people on the waiting list, although we made an effort to try and accommodate most people in the end.

The school is offered for free, but without support for travel, lodging or meals. It is therefore not surprising that most participants are from the Toronto area, but there was a sizeable number of attendants from outside Toronto (60), from outside of Ontario (15) and even from outside Canada (5).

The participants seem to really appreciate the event, as borne out by the preliminary results from the post-event survey. From the survey, we got suggestions for improvements for the future, such as (even) more hands-on and better explanation of prerequisites and software for the sessions. Nonetheless, 94% of the respondents was very satisfied with the summer school, and thought the overall value of the summer school was high. 92% would recommend the event to their peers. Interestingly, the answers to the question “What was the most important thing you learned or did during the summer school?” varied a lot, indicating, perhaps, that the broad range of offered topics allowed participants to pick what suits them best.

Organizing the school was a tremendous experience, made possible by 8 instructors and staff members from SciNet, 9 from CAMH, and 2 from SHARCNET. The University of Toronto provided the space for the session, while Compute Ontario sponsored the coffee-and-cookie breaks.

If you missed it this time, look for the announcement next spring of the 2019 Ontario Summer School on High Performance Computing.

Gravitation waves detected, again!

June 15, 2016 in blog, blog-general, blog-technical, for_press, for_researchers, for_users, in_the_news, news, success_story, Testimonials

We congratulate the LIGO and Virgo collaborations to the second-ever observation of gravitational waves from colliding black holes.

SciNet is proud to have contributed to the computation of the waveform templates that were used in this latest discovery of LIGO. LIGO measured about 55 gravitational wave cycles for this new binary black hole system. This large number of cycles made detailed computations of the expected wave-shapes more important than for the first detected black hole merger that was announced in February.

Canada is a leader of numerical calculations of colliding black holes, research led by Professor Harald Pfeiffer, Canada Research Chair for Numerical Relativity and Gravitational Wave Astrophysics at the University of Toronto. Pfeiffer states: I am very grateful for the sustained support of the SciNet team during the last 7 years; their support and the access to computing time on SciNet’s supercomputers have been crucial for my research program and its profound contributions to the LIGO discovery.


Above: The in-spiral and collision of two black holes similar to GW151226. The top portion of the frame shows the horizons of the two holes, in this case, at the moment close to the merger of the black holes. The middle portion of the frame shows the gravitational waveform projected onto the LIGO Livingston detector. The bottom part shows the frequency of the gravitational waves, gradually increasing from about 35Hz to above 700Hz. For this system, LIGO could observe many more gravitational wave cycles than for the first discoved system (named GW150914).

Visualization done by University of Toronto Undergraduate student Aliya Babul & Prof. Harald Pfeiffer, within the SXS Collaboration/

Science Rendezvous 2016

April 28, 2016 in for_educators, for_press, for_researchers, for_users, frontpage, in_the_news, news, success_story

Join us Saturday, May 7th for Science Rendezvous! It is an annual festival at the University of Toronto that takes science out of the lab and onto the street.

At the SciNet booth, explorers of all ages will find out how researchers use computers for discovery. They will see how simple computer simulations that you can run in your web browser or laptop can reveal important facts about how complex systems behave.

Click here for more details about Science Rendezvous and its many exhibitors.

SR 2016 at UofT (St. George Campus) 2

Gravitational Waves detected!!!

February 12, 2016 in blog, for_educators, for_press, for_researchers, for_users, in_the_news, news, success_story, Uncategorized

On February 11th, 2016 (10:30AM EST), scientists from Caltech, MIT and the LIGO Scientific Collaboration together with representatives of the National Science Foundation, announced in a live press conference, the first direct detection of gravitational waves.
The event detected, named GW150914, was produced by two colliding black holes, inspariling and merging together. This signal was detected by LIGO on September 14th, 2015.

Details of this discovery can be found in the following papers:

Many of the researchers running simulations and analysing data in several of our clusters are directly involved in the efforts for accurately modelling, simulating and detecting gravitational wave signals.
As a matter of fact, one of the simulations used for visualizing one of the movies screened during the announcement of the discovery of gravitational waves, was performed on SciNet’s General Purpose Cluster (GPC).

“The first detection of gravitational waves passing through Earth is a tremendous discovery. These waves were generated by never before observed astronomical objects, colliding black holes. I am very grateful for SciNet and Compute Canada to provide the computing resources needed to explore the properties of binary black holes, research that was instrumental in building the waveform-templates that LIGO used in its momentous discovery.”
Prof. Harald Pfeiffer (Canadian Institute for Theoretical Astrophysics, University of Toronto)

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Simulation of a binary black-hole system emitting gravitational radiation (gravitational waves) performed on SciNet’s General Purpose Cluster (GPC).
These simulations were performed by solving Einstein’s equations of General Relativity using a code co-developed on SciNet, by the SXS/CITA collaboration.
Credit: SXS/CITA/SciNet
Another of the videos displayed on the press-conf, was also produced by solving Einstein equations using this same computer code co-developed on SciNet by the SXS/CITA collaboration.

Big Data Challenge for HighSchool Students 2016

February 12, 2016 in blog-general, for_educators, for_press, frontpage, success_story

IMG_20160204_091035 IMG_20160204_144339 IMG_20160204_144158

SciNet in partnership with STEM Fellowship (, SAS and Open Data Toronto, organized the second edition of the “Big Data Challenge for High School Students”.

On Feb. 4th, the 2015/2016 Big Data Challenge for high school students took place. 8 teams from several schools across the GTA presented their research on data analytic in front of peers and judges.

Inspired by “Big Data in the City” theme, students gathered data from Open Data Toronto, analysed and investigated topics such as: immigration relocation strategies, emergency response for first responders services, identification of clusters in Toronto, environmental analysis of Toronto neighbourhoods, debt risk analysis of the city, collision patterns and prevention, data mining from social media related to energy efficient companies, among many others.

SciNet members, in addition to organize this event participated evaluating the initial proposals and judging the final 8 qualified for the final presentation.


Participants of the Big Data Challenge will be participating in tours to SciNet’s datacenter, as an unique opportunity to experience and visit the home of the largest super-computers in Canada!


Congratulations to all the participants!!!


Further information can be found in the following links:

International HPC Summer School in Toronto

June 29, 2015 in blog, blog-general, for_educators, for_researchers, for_users, in_the_news, news, success_story


Eighty students from the US, Canada, Europe and Japan, plus about twenty speakers and over thirty mentors gathered at the University of Toronto from June 21 to June 26, 2015, to learn about High Performance Computing, and share experiences in this multi-disciplinary field (see Sponsored by PRACE, XSEDE, Riken, and Compute Canada , this was the sixth such advanced international summer school on High Performance Computing, which targets graduate students and postdocs who already have some experience in HPC parallel programming (for instance, MPI, OpenMP, or CUDA/OpenCL), preferably on software used in successful research projects.

Leading American, Canadian, European and Japanese computational scientists and HPC technologists offered instruction on a variety of topics, including HPC programming proficiencies, performance analysis, and visualization, as well as presentations of how HPC gets applied in fields such as geophysics, climate science, material science, cosmology, plasma phyiscs, and life sciences.

SciNet, a partner in the Compute Canada endeavour, was encited to be the local organization of this large international event.
It was an engaging week of instruction and networking that we hope has given the participants the skills and inspiration to use HPC resources to explore scientific projects at new and unprecedented scales.