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Mon Mar 2, 2020, 09:06 PM

Stanford group wants to use your computer to help researchers study the coronavirus

Long-time DUers may recall that we once had a DU "Folding@home" team, joining thousands of others around the world in commandeering our personal computers' unused number-crunching capacity to help the Stanford University Folding@home project research diseases.

Well, the Stanford group is still doing this work. To date, the Folding@home project has focused primarily on cancer and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer's disease. Now, as they march toward one million members worldwide, they're asking for volunteers to support their research into COVID-19!

In fact, I checked their list of teams*, and there is still a Democratic Underground team -- Team 48157. You can participate anonymously, or create a user name to get credit as an individual or as a member of the team!
* Note: This file has a bz2 extension, so you'll need to use a zip extractor to open it.

The way it works is that participants download the Folding@home software to their Windows, Mac, or Linux computers and then run it in the background. To quote from the project web site: "The Folding@home software runs while you do other things. While you keep going with your everyday activities, your computer will be working to help us find cures for diseases like cancer, ALS, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, Influenza and many others."

In this video, participant Hannah Samara explains why she joined the effort:


Reading to join me and start folding? Go here: https://foldingathome.org/start-folding/

Here's some more info on the program:

Folding@home leverages unused computing power from idle machines
By Kim Lyons Mar 2, 2020, 6:25pm EST
The Verge

Stanford University’s Folding@home distributed computing project is seeking volunteers to help researchers develop treatment therapies for the novel coronavirus.

Folding@home (FAH) uses the processing capacity of networked computers to simulate the complex process of protein folding, which helps determine how to treat diseases like Alzheimer’s and cancer, and SARS, another coronavirus. A brief explainer from Folding@home:

For both coronaviruses (the current 2019 nCoV and SARS), the first step of infection occurs in the lungs, when a protein on the surface of the virus binds to a receptor protein on a lung cell. This viral protein is called the spike protein ... Proteins are not stagnant—they wiggle and fold and unfold to take on numerous shapes. We need to study not only one shape of the viral spike protein, but all the ways the protein wiggles and folds into alternative shapes

Studying how the protein folds could eventually help researchers develop drugs that could treat infections of the virus.

This kind of research requires substantial computational power, which FAH generates by tapping into volunteers’ CPUs when they’re idle.
(snip)
To participate in the coronavirus project, download the FAH software, and your computer’s unused resources will go to the Folding@home Consortium, “where a research team at Memorial Sloan Kettering is working to advance our understanding of the structures of potential drug targets for 2019-nCoV that could aid in the design of new therapies,” according to FAH’s blog post.

From the "About" page of the Folding@home project web site:
Folding@home (FAH or F@h) is a distributed computing project for disease research that simulates protein folding, computational drug design, and other types of molecular dynamics. As of today, the project is using the idle resources of personal computers owned by volunteers from all over the world. Thousands of people contribute to the success of this project.

PANDE LAB
The Pande Lab is the founding scientific group of Folding@home. Directed by Professor Vijay Pande, Ph.D., the lab is part of the Departments of Chemistry and of Structural Biology, Stanford University and Stanford University Medical Center, and works on theory and simulations of how proteins, RNA, and nanoscale synthetic polymers fold.

We founded the project, developed methods for using distributed computing to study long timescale dynamics, pushed its application to protein folding, and wrote the client software and server code for the Folding@home project. The members of the group involved with Folding@home are listed on our web page.

For more information:
- Start folding now!
- Folding@home project home page
- Folding@home takes up the fight against COVID-19 / 2019-NCOV
- Folding@home Consortium -- other research labs collaborating with the Stanford team
- Folding@home Support Forum

13 replies, 3010 views

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Replies to this discussion thread
Arrow 13 replies Author Time Post
Reply Stanford group wants to use your computer to help researchers study the coronavirus (Original post)
klook Mar 2020 OP
TreasonousBastard Mar 2020 #1
klook Mar 2020 #3
klook Mar 2020 #2
drray23 Mar 2020 #4
Submariner Mar 2020 #5
klook Mar 2020 #6
Staph Mar 2020 #7
klook Mar 2020 #8
CabalPowered Mar 9 #9
ornotna Mar 15 #10
klook Mar 15 #11
mia Apr 21 #12
klook Apr 21 #13

Response to klook (Original post)

Mon Mar 2, 2020, 09:24 PM

1. I remember this, and signed up many computers ago...

I can sign up now, too, but would really like to know how well it's been working.

Digging through their site to find out more.

("We want your Cycles!"

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Response to TreasonousBastard (Reply #1)

Mon Mar 2, 2020, 09:36 PM

3. I'm running the Folding@home process in the background this very minute

Last edited Mon Mar 2, 2020, 11:34 PM - Edit history (1)

Figured I'd better practice what I preach.

I'm using a MacBook Pro with 16GB memory, and I've observed no hiccups so far. We'll see how it goes later when I'm running Logic Pro or some other CPU-intensive application!

You can choose to devote "Light, Medium, or Full" power to the Folding@home process. I'm using Medium right now, and will try it at different levels to see if there is any observable difference.

According to MacOS Activity Monitor, it's using 195.6 MB of memory on 5 threads, which is moderate.

Screen cap of the 3D visualization of my "work unit," which is currently about 64 percent complete after roughly 2 hours:


That blob of colored balls (I guess that's the protein that's being folded) rotates in a 3-dimensional field. It looks pretty cool.

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Response to klook (Original post)

Mon Mar 2, 2020, 09:28 PM

2. DU is Team # 48157!!

I'm updating the OP, but adding this as a separate post to draw attention to it for those planning to support Folding@home as part of the DU team.

Once you've downloaded the software, you can go to https://client.foldingathome.org/ to start folding. You have the option to use the software anonymously, or to get credit with a user name and/or team name. I'm registered as klook for DU's Team 48157!

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Response to klook (Original post)

Mon Mar 2, 2020, 09:40 PM

4. I used to run it. I did not know we had a DU team.

Gotta sign on on the team then.

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Response to klook (Original post)

Mon Mar 2, 2020, 09:44 PM

5. But I'm still processing data for the DU SETI@Home team since 2001

https://setiathome.berkeley.edu/team_display.php?teamid=31451

Description: This is the official, unofficial Democratic Underground, SETI@home group. We are a collection of members from the DemocraticUnderground.com website who also support SETI@home. DU does not endorse or manage and is not liable for this group.

Created 1 Mar 1999
Web site http://www.democraticunderground.com
Total credit 46,537,884
Recent average credit 34,464
Badges Top 5% in average credit
Cross-project stats Free-DC

BOINCstats.com
SETIBZH
Country
Type Other
Team foundership change Initiate request


I guess I could take a break for coronavirus data runs.

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Response to Submariner (Reply #5)

Mon Mar 2, 2020, 10:19 PM

6. Maybe there's an extraterrestrial civilization that can help us out

with epidemiology.

JK, that’s a very cool project and one well worth supporting. Maybe when the coronavirus is under control I’ll join the SETI project.

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Response to klook (Original post)

Mon Mar 2, 2020, 10:42 PM

7. I'm contributing to World Community Grid

https://www.worldcommunitygrid.org/homepage.action

It's similar sorts of projects. I'm currently contributing to:
  • Africa Rainfall Project
  • Microbiome Immunity Project
  • Smash Childhood Cancer
  • Help Stop TB
  • FightAIDS@Home - Phase 2
  • Mapping Cancer Markers

If anyone else wants to join, I can set up DU group!


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Response to Staph (Reply #7)

Mon Mar 2, 2020, 10:50 PM

8. Great, thanks! Didn't know about this one. (nt)

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Response to klook (Original post)

Mon Mar 9, 2020, 02:43 PM

9. Just installed on our local machines

It's unfortunate that our team is mostly dormant. I can remember the weekly SETI at home updates. We used to be very active. Now is a great time to jump back in!

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Response to klook (Original post)

Sun Mar 15, 2020, 12:00 AM

10. For the past couple of days

my laptop has been working on the corona virus.

https://foldingathome.org/2020/03/10/covid19-update/

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Response to ornotna (Reply #10)

Sun Mar 15, 2020, 10:09 AM

11. Outstanding!

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Response to klook (Original post)

Tue Apr 21, 2020, 04:57 PM

12. Thank you!

Just started folding again as mia3.

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Response to mia (Reply #12)

Tue Apr 21, 2020, 05:46 PM

13. Cool!

One way to help while homebound.

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