Winona State University joins World Community Grid

Winona 09 February 2007Winona State University (WSU) has joined the World Community Grid, one of the world's largest technology-based humanitarian efforts. The World Community Grid harnesses unused power of the world's computers and directs it towards efforts that will help society. Sponsored by IBM, the World Community Grid joins together individual computers to solve pieces of large, complex problems facing mankind. Winona State is contributing the power of its most powerful desktop computers to perform calculations to compare genome sequences.

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"Right now there are 40 computers that are part of the Grid. We intend to add 30 or so more, and perhaps even more than that", stated David Gresham, associate vice president for academic affairs and chief information officer at Winona State.

Other World Community Grid projects include computations to cure muscular dystrophy, fight AIDS, defeat cancer and examine human proteome folding.

Scientists all over the world are comparing gene sequences of different living organisms to determine similarities between them. Advances in the field could lead to a greater understanding how gene sequences affect functionality in various organisms. Potential benefits of this research include advances in the description of genome evolution, composition and cellular function; and knowledge of host-pathogen relationships and development of new drugs and vaccines.

Grid computing is a technology that can collect the power of millions of computers to create a huge virtual system with tremendous computational capacity. The World Community Grid works with a large group of partners around the world. These partners loan processing time directed at a specific project.

"This opportunity gives Winona State a chance to participate in an effort that can benefit everyone. We are pleased that we can put our processing resources toward it", stated David Gresham.

WSU's Grid computers are located in the information gallery in the Kruger Library. A small programme was installed on the computers, and they perform calculations on data sent from the World Community Grid's server. The computers send data back to the server, where it is made available to research scientists co-ordinating the genome comparison project.

Winona State plans to identify additional computing resources for further participation in the World Community Grid. More news on the World Community Grid is available in the VMW January 2007 article New Zealanders donating computer time to global AIDS research.


Leslie Versweyveld

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