ACCRE, Vanderbilt’s Advanced Computing Center for Research and Education, has contributed over 240,000 compute core hours to research on COVID-19 through its involvement in the Open Science Grid, a consortium of more than 100 universities and research labs that work together on complex computing jobs. As of May 13, Vanderbilt ranks in the top 10 institutions contributing to the effort and is the highest-ranked institution in the Southeast.
For years, the Open Science Grid has given researchers access to billions of hours of computing time distributed throughout its consortium. In the past, the Open Science Grid has tackled research in dark energy, traumatic brain injury and molecular science. It has contributed to the discovery of gravitational waves in 2017 using data from the LIGO experiment, which earned its researchers a Nobel Prize that year.
Currently, the bulk of the computing time for this effort is being provided to Folding@home, a crowd-sourced protein folding application in which anyone can participate by running the software on their computers in the background. It was originally designed to understand the protein folding mechanisms that could be used to treat cancer, infectious diseases and neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s. With new projects to investigate COVID-19, Folding@home has gotten so much interest among its users that it achieved a collective computing power of 2.4 exaflops, faster than the top 500 supercomputers in the world combined.
ACCRE and Open Science Grid’s efforts are part of a larger trend in high-performance computing among industry, academia, Department of Energy national labs, NSF facilities and NASA to conduct research in COVID-19.
More information about Open Science Grid’s support for COVID-19 research is available here.