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World Community Grid (WCG)


Orlando Sentinel

Kate Santich

If you knew you could fight Zika by downloading an app, would you?

In the battle against Zika, Danny Leoni of Casselberry has been called a superhero. Night and day, the 26-year-old is running algorithms to find the chemical compounds that could deactivate the virus and offer a cure.

But don’t look for his name in the Nobel Prize nominations anytime soon. He is simply lending the spare capacity of his computer.

“I figured, ‘Hey, it’s something actually useful instead of being on Netflix for eight hours at a time,'” he says.

Leoni is a volunteer for the nonprofit Hands On Orlando, which has recruited nearly 1,000 people whose computers, tablets and phones act as a collective supercomputer for researchers around the globe.

“The beauty of it is, you don’t have to have any particular skills. You don’t have to have any scientific background. You just have to care,” says Chris Allen, executive director of Hands On Orlando, which matches volunteers to group projects — such as sorting donations at food banks or washing dogs at pet shelters.

But for eight years, Allen’s nonprofit organization also has enlisted participants for what he dubbed the Super Heroes team.

Together they run scientific calculations that have led to advances in solar energy, treating childhood cancer and fighting AIDS. All volunteers need to do is download an app that allows their computers and phones to process data.

The app comes from the World Community Grid — an award-winning philanthropic project of IBM Corporate Citizenship, the tech company’s social responsibility initiative. For anyone worried that getting involved would open their devices to hackers, IBM is quick to point out that it installs the app on its own employees’ computers.

“As you can imagine, we take security very, very seriously,” says Juan Hindo, the World Community Grid program manager. “So we have all kinds of security measures in place. … It doesn’t touch any of the private data on your device.”

Since the project’s launch, researchers have used the grid to run massive computer simulations involving billions of variables by breaking up the data into personal computer-sized morsels that can run in the background as long as your device is turned on and connected to the internet.

The work, researchers report, has led to progress in fighting malaria, tuberculosis, muscular dystrophy, cancer and influenza. It has spurred the development of filtration systems for clean water and rice that has higher crop yields and more protein. And it is helping to map climate change.

But the Super Heroes’ most recent work has been on OpenZika, a project by an international team of scientists searching for a critically needed anti-viral drug to combat the disease. Currently, there is none.

Leoni, an aspiring web developer who joined the team a year and a half ago, says that project and another on cancer inspired him to sign up.

“Several people in my family have had cancer,” he says. “To know I’m contributing to the research definitely makes me feel good. Although I admit — the whole thing still blows my mind a little bit.”

Though the Super Heroes team ranks No. 224 out of nearly 32,600 teams participating worldwide, both Allen and Hindo acknowledge the potential is still largely untapped. The biggest hurdle, they say, is that most people just don’t understand it.

“A typical researcher, if they’re lucky, might have access to a supercomputer a few weeks a year — and then they’re sharing with dozens of other researchers on campus,” Hindo says. “And because there’s a very difficult funding climate for scientific researchers, they don’t want to spend a lot of their money on computer time, so they end up scaling down the scope of their research.”

But by distributing the load through thousands of volunteers worldwide, each researcher can have the equivalent of his or her own small supercomputer for as long as necessary, 24 hours a day, Allen says.

More than 720,000 people around the world have joined the effort so far.

In the Hands On office alone, 16 computers are enlisted. Kyle Trager, the community partnerships manager there, also has the app on his phone and his computer at home.

“You don’t even know it’s running,” he says. “I just plug in my phone to charge overnight, and once it gets to 90 percent, it’ll crunch these calculations.”

There’s never a slowdown of processing, Allen insists. And if the charity’s power bill went up as a result, it wasn’t noticeable.

“The benefit of joining our team [] is that you can call us and we will help you set it up,” he says. “And when scientists find a drug for Zika or a cure for cancer, you can say you helped make it happen.”

See the full article here.


There is a new project at World Community Grid [WCG] called OpenZika.
Zika depiction. Image copyright John Liebler,
Rutgers Open Zika

WCG runs on your home computer or tablet on software from Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing [BOINC]. Many other scientific projects run on BOINC software.Visit WCG or BOINC, download and install the software, then at WCG attach to the OpenZika project. You will be joining tens of thousands of other “crunchers” processing computational data and saving the scientists literally thousands of hours of work at no real cost to you.

This project is directed by Dr. Alexander Perryman a senior researcher in the Freundlich lab, with extensive training in developing and applying computational methods in drug discovery and in the biochemical mechanisms of multi-drug-resistance in infectious diseases. He is a member of the Center for Emerging & Re-emerging Pathogens, in the Department of Pharmacology, Physiology, and Neuroscience, at the Rutgers University, New Jersey Medical School. Previously, he was a Research Associate in Prof. Arthur J. Olson’s lab at The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI), where he ran the day-to-day operations of the FightAIDS@Home project, the largest computational drug discovery project devoted to HIV/AIDS, which also runs on WCG. While in the Olson lab, he also designed, led, and ran the largest computational drug discovery project ever performed against malaria, the GO Fight Against Malaria project, also on WCG.

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Please help promote STEM in your local schools.

Stem Education Coalition

World Community Grid (WCG) brings people together from across the globe to create the largest non-profit computing grid benefiting humanity. It does this by pooling surplus computer processing power. We believe that innovation combined with visionary scientific research and large-scale volunteerism can help make the planet smarter. Our success depends on like-minded individuals – like you.”

WCG projects run on BOINC software from UC Berkeley.

BOINC is a leader in the field(s) of Distributed Computing, Grid Computing and Citizen Cyberscience.BOINC is more properly the Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing.

BOINC WallPaper



“Download and install secure, free software that captures your computer’s spare power when it is on, but idle. You will then be a World Community Grid volunteer. It’s that simple!” You can download the software at either WCG or BOINC.

Please visit the project pages-

FightAIDS@home Phase II


Rutgers Open Zika

Help Stop TB
WCG Help Stop TB
Outsmart Ebola together

Outsmart Ebola Together

Mapping Cancer Markers

Uncovering Genome Mysteries
Uncovering Genome Mysteries

Say No to Schistosoma

GO Fight Against Malaria

Drug Search for Leishmaniasis

Computing for Clean Water

The Clean Energy Project

Discovering Dengue Drugs – Together

Help Cure Muscular Dystrophy

Help Fight Childhood Cancer

Help Conquer Cancer

Human Proteome Folding


World Community Grid is a social initiative of IBM Corporation
IBM Corporation

IBM – Smarter Planet