York celebrates World Community Grid Day

After just a few short weeks, the York University Research team on the World Community Grid is approaching 150 users, already placing it near the top 100 of more than 14,000 teams on the grid worldwide. Simply by offering their idle computer time for major humanitarian research, members of the York team have accounted for more than 2,000 results returned to the grid to date, which translates into almost two full years of accumulated research on such projects as fighting AIDS and cancer. 

Today is World Community Grid Day at York, celebrating the formal launch of York’s participation in the grid as the first Canadian university to become a member. York joins the IBM Corporation and a group of more than 220 companies, associations, foundations, nonprofits and academic institutions currently donating unused computer time to assist with research into some of humanity’s most pressing issues.

Above: The World Community Grid screen saver for the Fight AIDS@ Home project. The lower portion of the screen saver shows the progress of the research computation which uses a special program called AutoDock that is
activated through the World Community Grid.  (See the sidebar below)

The World Community Grid uses grid technology to join together many individual computers, creating a large system with massive computational power that far exceeds the power of a few supercomputers. Importantly, World Community Grid is easy and safe to use. York University is encouraging its community of students, alumni, faculty and staff to contribute their idle PC time (or Mac time) to assist humanitarian research by joining the grid at www.worldcommunitygrid.org and then becoming a member of their team: York University Research. There are simple step-by-step instructions at www.yorku.ca/wcg.

"It’s amazing the difference we can make as individuals by simply joining World Community Grid and pooling our collective resources," says Stan Shapson, York’s vice-president of research and innovation. "With a community of researchers, staff, students and alumni as large as we have, and as a University dedicated to contributing to global research opportunities, York University will be able to make a significant a

Fighting AIDS through The World Community Grid

On Nov. 21, 2005 World Community Grid launched FightAIDS@Home.

The project, sponsored by The Scripps Research Institute, uses computational methods to identify new candidate drugs to block HIV protease, a key molecular structure that when blocked, stops the virus that causes AIDS from maturing and could eventually lead to a way of avoiding the onset of AIDS and prolonging life for those affected by the virus.

To address the computational challenges associated with this research, the World Community Grid’s FightAIDS@Home project runs a software program called AutoDock, developed by The Scripps Research Institute. AutoDock is a suite of tools that predicts how small molecules, such as drug candidates, might bind or "dock" to a receptor of known 3D structure.

AutoDock is used on the World Community Grid to dock large numbers of different small molecules to HIV protease, so the best molecules can be found computationally, selected and tested in the laboratory for efficacy against the virus, HIV. By joining forces together, The Scripps Research Institute, World Community Grid and its growing volunteer force can find better treatments much faster than ever before.

nd measurable addition toward this effort."

Shapson adds, "World Community Grid is a tangible way for York to enhance its growing research reputation within our regional community, specifically by complementing our external collaborations with leading industry partners like IBM or our involvement in partnerships such as YORKbiotech, the National Centre for Medical Device Development, and CONCERT."

To join, individuals simply download and install a free, small software program onto their computers. When idle, a member’s computer requests data from World Community Grid’s server. The computer then performs computations using this data, sends the results back to the server, and prompts it for a new piece of work.

In its first year, World Community Grid ran the Human Proteome Folding Project, which provided scientists with data on how individual proteins within the human body affect human health, enabling them to develop new cures for diseases like lyme disease, malaria and tuberculosis. Scientists now have descriptions of 120,000 protein domains that are critical to human well-being; without the benefit of this free grid technology, it would have taken five years to get these results, compared with just 12 months on World Community Grid.

On July 20, 2006, World Community Grid launched a new effort that will assist in cancer research. The Help Defeat Cancer project analyzes tissue microarrays (TMA) – a new investigative tool that will ultimately help doctors select proper treatments and provide accurate prognosis for cancer patients.

See more about the grid and how to join the York University Research team at www.yorku.ca/wcg.