Warp-Speed Innovation

Photo: Stephen Travarca

Remember the “B.C.” years?

No, I’m not talking about dinosaurs — although I might as well be. I mean “before computers.” If you’re like me, you have to dig pretty deep into your personal memory bank to recall a time when life wasn’t so digital.

When I was in college, I thought the height of hightech was banging out term papers on an electronic typewriter with a built-in memory system. It was basically a very rudimentary word processor. Back then, personal computers were only just coming into vogue. For most of us, if you needed a computer for some assignment, you had to visit a computer lab. Hopefully you remembered to bring the floppy disk that stored all of your data.

Fast forward to the present. Our smartphones have exponentially more computing power than the machines that guided NASA astronauts to the moon and back. Ditto the laptop on which I’m writing this column.

We’ve come a long way. But the best is yet to come.

Cleveland Clinic’s main campus is now home to an IBM Quantum System One. It’s not only the first private-sector, on-site, IBM-managed quantum computer in the United States, but the first quantum computer in healthcare. This remarkable piece of technology anchors the Discovery Accelerator, a new partnership between Cleveland Clinic and IBM that will harness the power of advanced computing to ignite an exciting new era of healthcare discovery.

How? I encourage you to read all about it in the cover story of this issue.

As my colleague Serpil Erzurum, MD, likes to point out: This is an inflection point. “We’re moving from black and white, linear computing to nonlinear computing based on probabilities,” says Dr. Erzurum, Chief Research and Academic Officer at Cleveland Clinic and holder of the Alfred Lerner Memorial Chair in Innovative Biomedical Research “In the last five years, we’ve had a digital explosion. One of the things that holds back our research is the flow of data. How fast can we do the analyses? The Discovery Accelerator will find solutions for patients more quickly.”

If you’re as excited as we are about the potential of this collaboration between two world-renowned organizations with long histories of innovation, I hope you’ll consider supporting it. The Discovery Accelerator touches every aspect of Cleveland Clinic’s mission, from care to research to education. And, as always, the generosity of our donors will provide the resources that empower us to go further and get there faster.

Without you, none of this computes.