Folding At Home

Several members of the ParkHub team have been contributing their personal computers to aid COVID-19 research, through an incredible initiative called  Folding@home.

The Washington University Folding@home project started in 2000 with volunteers donating CPU and GPU time on computers to examine the structure and behavior of proteins.

Proteins are the basis of biological functions. They assemble themselves to perform their unique function by taking on a particular shape known as a “fold.” By studying the structure and behavior of specific known proteins in diseases, scientists are able to create strategies to disrupt them.

The first step of coronavirus infection occurs in the lungs, when a protein called the spike protein on the surface of the virus binds to a receptor protein on a lung cell. To develop a therapeutic antibody, scientists need to understand the structure of the viral spike protein and how it binds to the human receptor required for viral entry into human cells.

The development of models that represent a protein in action requires an enormous amount of computer power. Folding@home enlists thousands of computers to perform simultaneous simulations and collates the data. The results are publicly available, allowing any organization working on a vaccine, treatment or other research to use it in their work at no cost. 

The ParkHub team members taking part in Folding@home are currently running 9 folding pipelines across 5 machines. They are utilizing 38 CPU cores and 12672 GPU cores for a combined total of more than 39 terraflops of computing power. 

You can follow our team stats here.

Visit this page to contribute to Folding@home or make donations through Washington University in St. Louis.

Photo Credit to CDC / Alissa EckertMS; Dan HigginsMAMS

Special thanks to Colin Campbell, Geoffrey Byers, Pat Dayton, Trace Baxter, and Greg Walters.