A crowdsourcing initiative to find a cure for drug-resistant malaria has been unveiled by Scripps Research Institute and IBM. The project, to be partly funded by money won from the Jeopardy! game show by IBM’s Watson computing system, has invited the public to volunteer their computers for use when idle through the World Community Grid (WCG).
The project, “Go Fight Against Malaria,” will use the WCG to compute numbers and perform simulations. Currently, 575,000 people in over 80 countries have volunteered around 2 million PCs to the WCG.
Working on malaria started as a hobby that I advanced during nights and weekends for a couple years, when I wasn’t working on FightAIDS@Home. With persistence and a lot of help from IBM and from fellow Scripps Research scientists, we are now ready to launch the largest computational research project ever performed against drug-resistant malaria.
Alex L. Perryman, Ph.D., Research Associate At The Scripps Research Institute
The WCG crowd computers will use idle time when the PCs are not being used by their owners to compute small allocated tasks. Scientists will thus benefit from whatever outcomes the system gives by using the data to find cures for diseases, clean energy research or developing healthier foods.
From the increased computing power, the Scripps Research scientists are hoping the WCG will help compress 100 years of computations needed for such a venture into just one year. Data from crowd PCs will be used by scientists to study numerous compounds that can potentially help develop a cure for drug-resistant strains of malaria. The results of the experiments will be availed to the public.
The World Community Grid is an IBM effort that seeks to offer scientists high-speed computational power to speed up research, otherwise not attainable easily. The WCG runs on Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC) software. The system has thus far helped scientist develop 30 peer-review papers, with 19 projects having been completed.
If you want to learn more about this exciting initiative check out the GO Fight Against Malaria video hosted by Dr. Alexander L. Perryman.