April 1, 2020 | Written by: Juan Hindo
Categorized: COVID-19 | World Community Grid
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Challenging times can bring out the best in people, and these past few weeks are proof-positive. Amidst a great deal of uncertainty, anxiety and frustration caused by COVID-19, it is heartening to see communities coming together (while standing six feet apart, of course) to address the pandemic. There’s so much to be done.
One easy way to help join the fight against COVID-19 is through IBM’s World Community Grid, which crowdsources the surplus computing power that volunteers like you and me have, and uses it for humanitarian scientific research. World Community Grid is being deployed in the fight against COVID-19, soon launching an important project from The Scripps Research Institute called “OpenPandemics – COVID-19.”
Here’s how you can help: If you’re reading this, chances are good that you have access to the Internet and own a computer. Chances are also good that your computers are not in round-the-clock use. Why not put them to work during those downtimes? Instead of letting them lie idle, have them perform virtual experiments to screen chemical compounds that might work against COVID-19.
With thousands of computing devices hard at work, the project can easily perform hundreds of millions of calculations in pursuit of drug candidates. Manually screening thousands of compounds could take much longer in a traditional laboratory or with fewer computers.
These millions of virtual experiments, performed on World Community Grid volunteers’ devices on behalf of Scripps researchers, will predict which chemical compounds are likely to be effective at fighting COVID-19. Those compounds that show promise will then undergo further testing and analysis.
While OpenPandemics will first be searching for potential treatments for COVID-19, the project won’t end there. Scientists project that there will be more pandemics in the future, so OpenPandemics also aims to generate computational research tools and processes that can be rapidly deployed during (or even before) future pandemics. And in keeping with World Community Grid’s open data policy, the project’s results and these rapid-response tools will be available to the scientific community free of charge.
It all begins with downloading the World Community Grid software application, a free and safe app that automatically knows when your device is available to work on a virtual experiment. It knows when to pause, when to submit results, and when to receive the next scientific computation. No scientific or technical expertise is needed, and it won’t slow you or your system down. (Please sign up here.)
While IBM is deploying other resources towards the fight against COVID-19, including allocating supercomputing resources for researchers, World Community Grid provides a way for all of us to help.
The only thing that gives greater satisfaction than volunteering is helping others volunteer too. To that end, our work with Scripps Research supports vital work, but also gives all of us the opportunity to help solve the crisis without leaving home! During a time of social distancing, this sense of unity and purpose is so important.
To address COVID-19, let’s use the power of technology to join hands and put our heads together — virtually, of course!
This story first appeared on the Good Tech IBM Blog.