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Two regional research projects called among nation’s 10 best

Princeton researchers test their system for speeding Web access with low-cost, low-power laptops being targeted for use in developing regions. The researchers are, from left: Anirudh Badam, Larry Peterson, Vivek Pai and Marc Fiuczynski. Another collaborator, KyoungSoo Park, is not shown. (Photo: Frank Wojciechowski) Two research projects were listed among the nation’s top 10 emerging […]

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Princeton researchers test their system for speeding Web access with low-cost, low-power laptops being targeted for use in developing regions. The researchers are, from left: Anirudh Badam, Larry Peterson, Vivek Pai and Marc Fiuczynski. Another collaborator, KyoungSoo Park, is not shown. (Photo: Frank Wojciechowski)
Two research projects were listed among the nation’s top 10 emerging innovations by Technology Review magazine.
The 2009 version of the annual list from the MIT-published magazine, considered the oldest technology publication in existence, recognized a technique for improving Web access for people in developing nations and a method for more cheaply and quickly sequencing DNA.
The first was the product of Princeton University researchers and the second by a group from BioNanomatrix, a University City biotech firm.
See more about the projects after the jump.
Princeton computer scientists Vivek Pai, Anirudh Badam and colleagues developed HashCache, which aims to greatly speed access to Web pages while reducing the need for computer memory and electricity by 90 percent, according to a university press release.

The HashCache system, like a standard Web browser, stores (or caches) information from sites that have already been visited to speed up access the next time. The innovation, however, is to store the information much more efficiently so that even an outdated PC could retrieve the equivalent of the entire contents of Wikipedia quickly and with little computing power.
“Instead of pulling down information from the Web once per person, you pull it down once per school or once per business,” said Pai, an associate professor of computer science. Very large computer storage disks have become very cheap, but the standard technology for sorting through all that information requires significant computing power. With HashCache, “you can drive this system off really cheap machines, any desktop you have lying around or these $200 laptops for kids” [Source].

The second invention housed in the region came from the labs of BioNanomatrix, which has recently received a $400,000 investment from the Ben Franklin Technology Partners and a $2 million grant from the National Institutes of Health.
The biotech start up is pursuing what some say may be the future of personalized medicine: technology advanced enough to read an entire human genome in eight hours for $100 or less. Such a tool, researchers say, would allow medical treatment to be tailored to a patient’s distinct genetic profile, according to Technology Review.

Despite many experts’ doubt that whole-genome sequencing could be done for $1,000, let alone a 10th that much, BioNanomatrix believes it can reach the $100 target in five years. The reason for its optimism: company founder Han Cao has created a chip that uses nanofluidics and a series of branching, ever-narrowin�g channels to allow researchers, for the first time, to isolate and image very long strands of individual DNA molecules [Source].

Companies: BioNanomatrix / Princeton University

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