Turbotodd

Ruminations on tech, the digital media, and some golf thrown in for good measure.

Posts Tagged ‘world community grid

IBM And Scripps Foundation: Crowdsourcing A Cure For Malaria

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Consider this: In 2006, 247 million people became infected with malaria.

Nearly 1 million deaths are caused by malaria each year and 85 percent of those are children, who die from the disease at a rate of one every 30 seconds.

In fact, malaria is the leading cause of death in Africa for those under age five.

According to the World Health Organization, malaria is both a disease of poverty and a cause of poverty; survivors are often subject to impaired learning, school absences, lost work and increased economic distress. Where prevalent, the disease can account for 40 percent of all public health costs.  

There is no reliable cure or vaccine for the prevention and treatment of all forms of malaria — particularly the drug-resistant strains caused by Plasmodium falciparum, which kills more people than any other parasite and is of particular interest to the researchers.

Crowdsourcing A Cure For Malaria 

IBM’s Watson computing system broke new ground earlier this year when it defeated two celebrated human competitors on the “Jeopardy!” game show.

Now, The Scripps Research Institute is hoping to do something equally novel but more critical to human health with part of the prize money from that tournament: Find a cure for drug-resistant malaria.

And it’s asking for the public’s help.

Scripps Research and IBM are encouraging anyone in the world with a personal computer to join World Community Grid (WCG), a sort of “supercomputer of the people” that will crunch numbers and perform simulations for “GO Fight Against Malaria”—the project that Scripps Research and IBM have launched. 

World Community Grid is fed by spare computing power from the nearly 2 million PCs that have been volunteered so far by 575,000 people in more than 80 countries. 

Now that’s crowdsourcing!

Breaking It Down Into Wee Bits

WCG gives each PC small computing assignments to perform when the devices aren’t otherwise being used by its owners, then sends the results to scientists seeking a faster way to cure disease, find renewable energy materials, create clean water techniques, or develop healthier food staples.

Or, in this case, perform simulations for the fight against malaria.

Scripps Research, which has already used World Community Grid to discover two promising new inhibitors of HIV to advance the treatment of multi-drug-resistant AIDS, is now taking on the malaria project as well.

By tapping into World Community Grid — which turned seven years old just this past week — Scripps Research scientists hope to compress 100 years of computations normally necessary for the effort into just one year.

The scientists will use this resource to more quickly evaluate millions of compounds that may advance the development of drugs to cure mutant, drug-resistant strains of malaria.

Data from the experiments will then be made available to the public.

Elementary, My Dear Watson

Earlier this year, scientists for seven World Community Grid projects received half the $1 million first-place prize from the “Jeopardy!” game show tournament that saw IBM’s Watson computing system compete successfully against two former human champions.

Watson, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, was built by a team of IBM scientists who set out to overcome a longstanding scientific challenge—building a computing system that rivals a human’s ability to answer questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence.

“Working on malaria started as a hobby that I advanced during nights and weekends for a couple years, when I wasn’t working on FightAIDS@Home,” said Alex L. Perryman, Ph.D., a research associate in Scripps Research Professor Arthur Olson’s lab. “With persistence and a lot of help from IBM and from fellow Scripps Research scientists, we are now ready to launch the largest computational research project ever performed against drug-resistant malaria.”

The team at Scripps Research successfully proposed a project whose design and development would benefit from the winnings.  Perryman, who describes the malaria project in more detail here, explained that “Without the funding provided by some of the money that Watson won on “Jeopardy!,” this Global Online Fight Against Malaria project would not have been possible.”

Background: World Community Grid

World Community Grid is one of IBM’s exciting philanthropic initiatives. Founded in 2004 and running on Berkeley Open Infrastructre for Network Computing (BOINC) software, it provides computational power available to scientists who might not otherwise be able to afford the high speed computing they require for timely research.

To date, 19 research projects have been hosted on World Community Grid, spinning off 30 peer-reviewed papers.

Nine of the projects it has hosted have generated particularly promising results that are being further researched, or followed up with a second phase on World Community Grid.

If it were a physical supercomputer, World Community Grid would be one of the world’s 15 fastest such machines.

Go here to learn more and to participate in this important new research effort and help the global fight against malaria.

Written by turbotodd

November 22, 2011 at 5:25 pm

IBM & University Of Antioquia Partner To Search For Parasite Cure

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If you’ve ever wondered to yourself how you can get involved in and in support of IBM’s “Smarter Planet” initiative, the following provides just the kind of example to foot the bill.

IBM and the University of Antioquia today announced a joint research project that will use computer power from IBM’s World Community Grid, which pools and uses the idle computing power of volunteers’ personal computers around the world to help accelerate scientific research that addresses humanitarian challenges.

IBM and the University of Antioquia partner to use the World Community Grid computing power to search for smarter treatments of a common parasite.

In this particular instance, IBM and the University of Antioquia will be using the World Community Grid computing power to predict potential inhibitors or drugs that have the potential to control Leishmaniasis.

The research project will try to find potential inhibitors of the Leishmaniasis parasite, or explore the application of drugs currently used to treat similar diseases.

Using the computational power of World Community Grid enables the screening of 600,000 potentially useful chemical compounds stored in a public drug database.  The idea is to virtually apply these compounds against 5,300 Leishmania proteins in an effort to identify prospective drug treatments.

Instead of implementing costly and lengthy laboratory trials, or spending dozens of years performing computations on small computers, millions of experiments will be simulated using the software installed in the devices comprising World Community Grid.

“Conducting this same project in a local cluster would take more or less 70 to 100 years. With World Community Grid, it will be completed in a maximum of two years. This is evidence of the data processing capacity of this network dedicated to provide computational resources to try to find a solution to the problems that besiege communities in need around the world, as is the case of Leishmaniasis,” said Carlos Muskus, Coordinator, Molecular and Computational Biology, PECET, and project leader.

“This disease urgently calls for new and effective treatments, given that the number of infected patients has climbed to more than two million people in 97 countries.”

What In The World Is The World Community Grid?

World Community Grid is a network of more than two million individual computers, providing donated computer power during the time in which their computers are idle,  creating the world’s largest and fastest computing grid to benefit of humankind. World Community Grid is based on IT innovation, combined with scientific and visionary research, plus volunteer, collective and nonprofit actions to create a smarter planet.

Individuals can donate their computers’ time to these projects by registering at www.worldcommunitygrid.org, and installing a secure, free software program in their personal computers running Linux, Microsoft Windows or Mac OS.

Computers request data from the World Community Grid server when they are idle, or between key strokes during non compute-intensive jobs.  In this way, they can help complete the protein computations required to perform the Leishmaniasis research in Colombia.

Sponsored by IBM, World Community Grid has offered researchers worldwide the equivalent of millions of dollars’ worth of free computational power to enable medical, nutritional, energy and environmental research.

548,310 Users And Counting

At present, more than 548,310 users and 1,729,127 devices are part of IBM’s World Community Grid in 88 countries, including Colombia.  World Community Grid’s server runs Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) software, maintained at Berkeley University and supported by the National Science Foundation.

Projects undertaken by the World Community Grid, which have yielded dozens of peer-reviewed scientific research papers, include efforts to cure muscular dystrophy and cancer, as well as to develop cheaper and more efficient solar cells. Other projects include Fight AIDS@Home with Scripps Research Institute, which found two compounds that may lead to new treatments of drug-resistant HIV strains.

The Nutritious Rice for the World project completed 12 million computational transactions in 11,000 computing hours, in an effort to achieve healthier, more disease and weather-resistant rice strains.  And the Genome Comparison project run by Fiocruz has organized and standardized the way scientists understand the role of gene sequences in maintaining health or causing illness.

Go here to learn more about IBM’s corporate citizenship initiatives.

Raining Cats And Dogs

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It’s raining cats and dogs here in Austin.

After a nice, long sunny Labor Day weekend, the front edge of Hurricane Hermine seems to have made its way inland and providing the Central Texas area with some much needed water.

A shortage of water is not a problem indigenous to Central Texas.

In the last 100 years, global water usage has increased at twice the rate of population growth, and the United Nations predicts that nearly half the world’s population will experience critical water shortages by the year 2025.

Today, World Community Grid, a worldwide network of PC owners helping scientists solve humanitarian challenges, announced several computing projects aimed at developing techniques to produce cleaner and safer water, an increasingly scarce commodity eluding at least 1.2 billion people worldwide.

One initiative will simulate how human behaviors and ecosystem processes relate to one another in watersheds such as the Chesapeake Bay. Other projects will explore advanced water filtering techniques and seek cures for a water-borne disease.

To accelerate the pace, lower the expense, and increase the precision of these projects, scientists will harness the IBM-supported World Community Grid to perform online simulations, crunch numbers, and pose hypothetical scenarios.

The processing power is provided by a grid of 1.5 million PCs from 600,000 volunteers around the world. These PCs perform computations for scientists when the machines would otherwise be underutilized.

Scientists also use World Community Grid — equivalent to one of the world’s fastest supercomputers — to engineer cleaner energy, cure disease and produce healthier food staples.

The University of Virginia Watershed Sustainability Project will use World Community Grid to power its “UVa Bay Game/Analytics” project, which models the effects of agricultural, commercial and industrial decisions on the Chesapeake Bay.

This waterway is a vital estuary on the East Coast of the United States stretching 64,000 square miles with 11,600 miles of tidal shoreline, and home to nearly 17 million people.

It will simulate and analyze the results of choices made by the sometimes-competing interests of fishermen, farmers, real estate developers, power plant designers, conservationists, forestry experts and urban planners. Better understanding the potential outcomes of complex, intersecting decisions can help society manage the watershed more effectively.

Another new water-related project, called “Computing For Clean Water,” is looking to produce more efficient and effective water filtering, and is now getting underway at Tsinghua University’s newly launched Centre for Novel Multidisciplinary Mechanics in China.

The idea is to develop ways to filter and scrub polluted water, as well as convert saltwater into drinkable freshwater, with less expense, complexity, and energy than current techniques.

The effort will seek to reduce the pressure and energy required to force water through microscopic, nanometer-sized pores in tubes made of carbon, whose tiny holes prevent harmful organic material from being transmitted. Scientists need to produce millions of computer simulations to model how water molecules interact with one another and against the walls of these carbon nanotubes.

A third initiative, to be run on World Community Grid out of Brazil’s Inforium Bioinformatics, in collaboration with FIOCRUZ-Minas, is seeking to cure schistosomiasis, a significant, parasite-based disease prevalent in tropical regions that is incubated and transmitted via foul water.

The World Health Organization lists this disease as highly necessary to control. It kills from 11,000 to 200,000 people every year and infects about 210 million individuals in 76 countries. It takes a severe toll on undeveloped countries, causing about 1.7 million disability-adjusted life-years of burden annually. While the drug Praziquantel has been largely effective in treating the disease for more than 25 years, drug-resistant strains are of concern.

Researchers will now seek to identify human protein targets for possible new drug treatments. They will use the World Community Grid to screen up to 13 million compounds found in the zinc.docking.org database against 180 protein structures involved with the parasite.

While this may not lead to new drugs immediately, it will greatly augment the study of this disease by scientists around the world.

IBM donated the server hardware, software, technical services and expertise to build the infrastructure for World Community Grid and provides free hosting, maintenance and support.

Individuals can donate time on their computers for these and many other humanitarian projects by registering on www.worldcommunitygrid.org, and by installing a free, unobtrusive and secure software program on their personal computers running either Linux, Microsoft Windows or Mac OS.

When idle or between keystrokes on a lightweight task, the PCs request data from World Community Grid’s server, which runs Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) software, maintained at Berkeley University and supported by the National Science Foundation.

World Community Grid is also part of People for a Smarter Planet — a dynamic and intelligent network of activities, conversations and discussions in which anyone can participate to help build a sustainable and smarter world.

At People for a Smarter Planet, people can share ideas, engage and discuss, or participate in one of the growing list of projects like World Community Grid.

Written by turbotodd

September 7, 2010 at 2:18 pm

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