IBM’s World Community Grid is harnessing the computing power in idling desktops and laptops of volunteers around the world to solve protein structures. According to Viktor Berstis, senior software engineer, World Community Grid is a network of computers creating a large system with massive computational power that far surpasses the power of supercomputers.

“When idle, the computer in the grid will request data on a specific project from World Community Grid’s server. It will then perform computations on this data, send the results back to the server, and ask the server for a new piece of work. We have completed phase one in which more than 200,000 volunteers made their computers available, and the structures of about 20,000 proteins have been computed using University of Washington’s Rosetta software,” says Berstis.

In phase two they are targeting atomic-level, high-resolution structures of selected human secreted proteins and secreted proteins of pathogens such as the malarial parasite, Plasmodium.

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