World Community Grid benefits from York volunteers

York University has donated more than 25 years of computer research time to World Community Grid (WCG) through a campaign that officially launched in March of this year.

At that time, York University became the first Canadian university to partner with World Community Grid – joining the IBM Corporation and a group of more than 500 international companies, associations, foundations, non-profits and academic institutions –  to provide computer processing power from idle computers for global humanitarian research projects. 

Above: The screensaver for the Fiocruz Genome Comparison project. The screen saver appeared on idle computers linked to the grid. The Fiocruz Genome Comparison worked to better understand human genes and how they play a role in disease processes.

“As we said when we began our involvement with WCG, it is amazing the difference that individuals can make by contributing to World Community Grid,” said Stan Shapson, York vice-president research & innovation. “The combined contribution that York has made to WCG is a tangible demonstration of our commitment to research. It complements our external collaborations with leading industry partners such as IBM and our involvement in other research partnerships.”

World Community Grid joins together many individual computers, creating a large system with massive computational power that far exceeds the power of a few supercomputers. It uses grid technology to establish a permanent, flexible infrastructure which provides researchers around the world with a readily available pool of computational power that can be used to solve problems plaguing humanity.

Students, alumni, faculty and staff are encouraged to contribute their idle PC time to WCG by becoming a member of the York University Research team on the Grid, at There are more than 14,000 groups registered on WCG and, in a short period, York University Research has become one of the largest contributors, with more than 244 volunteers currently under the York banner. 

World Community Grid, as a whole, has reached a global milestone with more than 100,000 years of run-time contributed. Because of these contributions, results on critical health issues have already been achieved, demonstrating WCG’s potential to make significant inroads on a great range of future projects to benefit the world.

One recently-completed project – the Fiocruz Genome Comparison – ran for just over eight months, during which time 146,000 members donated 3,800 years of computer time. This was a significant contribution to help scientists better understand human genes, how they play a role in disease processes, and how to devise drugs to combat human diseases. Researchers on this project plan not only to use this data, but also to make it available to other researchers.

WCG still needs help from the York community for ongoing projects such as the FightAIDS@Home project and Human Proteome Folding-Phase 2 project, as well as for new projects. Projects most recently launched include Discovering Dengue Drugs, which is trying to identify promising drugs to combat dengue, hepatitis C, West Nile and yellow fever viruses, and AfricanClimate@Home, to develop more accurate climate models for specific regions of Africa so that measures can be designed to alleviate the effects of climate change.

See more about the grid and how to join the York University Research team at