Many people are asking how they can help in the effort to find treatment and prevention for COVID-19. The most important thing we can all do is to follow the guidance of your local officials to help stop the spread of the disease; stay home. But if you want to do more, there are ways to get involved even as you practice social distancing.
Donate your spare computing power to run mathematical simulations to help find a cure to COVID-19 and other complex medical problems.
You may have heard of a project called Folding@home. FAH (or F@h) is a distributed computing project. It was founded in the year 2000 at the Pande Laboratory at Stanford University, under director Vijay Pande. He led the effort until who led the project until 2019 when Dr. Greg Bowman of Washington University in St. Louis took over direction of the program. Initially released in 2000, it has been used to model aspects of Ebola, Alzheimer’s disease, and now COVID-19.
You may have heard about F@h recently. They received an unprecedented surge in volunteers in the midst of the COVID-19 response and now have more than one million individual devices supporting the project. The term “folding” refers to the process of protein folding and the movements of proteins implicated in a variety of diseases. The project seeks to simulate protein dynamics by bringing together citizen scientists who volunteer to run simulations of protein dynamics on their personal computers. Insights from this data are helping scientists to better understand biology, and providing new opportunities for developing therapeutics.
“This important work can help us identify protein patterns that can help us understand and stop this disease. The project has experienced a surge of participation, pushing it past the processing power of the most advanced super computers all from the generosity of people who donate their excess computing power to help find a cure,” said Dr. Greg Bowman, Principle Researcher at the Folding@home project.
We believe that projects like F@h are essential in contributing to the acceleration of research around devastating diseases such as the one we face today. We wanted to help. Many people in the Avast community were also expressing a desire to volunteer in meaningful ways even as shelter in place orders were put in place.
That’s why we are so excited to support F@h’s efforts by encouraging our community to volunteer.
Avast users can visit this Folding@home webpage to learn more about how to install and run F@h’s software. Volunteers commit some of their computer’s muscle to a global network dedicated to curing COVID-19. The data created by your computer will be sent back to Folding@home to analyze and add to the pool.
After contacting the project’s director, Dr. Greg Bowman, the Avast team discovered that they had already received a surge of volunteers, but that we could help in two ways. First, we could increase visibility by using our product to inform users about their project and enlist them as volunteers. And second, we could help address some of the bottlenecks that were appearing as more volunteers joined by helping with backend configuration, automation, and infrastructure for the overall project.
Said Bowman, “It’s important that we can continue to take on more volunteers to help build even more capacity, but we also need to rapidly scale our own architecture to support the added resources. Avast was able to help with both needs.”
When you run Folding@home, it will use part of your CPU power, disk space, and network bandwidth. You can control how much of your resources are used and when it uses them.
It may seem like we are on our machines 24/7, but even the most avid gamer can’t use their laptop all day and night. But while you sleep, your excess computing power can help scientists find an end to the COVID crisis.
To get involved, visit the Avast Folding@home page and learn more about how to put your machine to work to help find a breakthrough in the fight against COVID 19. Avast customers can also join via in product message in your Avast software.