Center for Advanced Systems Understanding supports search for COVID-19 treatment with its high-performance computer

The Polish-German Center for data-intensive systems research CASUS which recently was established in Görlitz, Germany, is supporting the worldwide project Folding@Home with free computing capacities that allow scientists to simulate and decode complex protein structures.  For the development of a successful antibody therapy that could prevent respiratory infection via COVID-19 is this of crucial importance.

Scientists from the Folding@home project, which is based at Stanford University in California, lately have called to make unused computing power available to them. By downloading the Folding software free computer capacity in the background is used by the international research team for large-scale calculations and simulations in favor of health research. While the group is usually looking for cures for Alzheimer’s, cancer and Parkinson’s disease, the current priority is to decipher the protein folding mechanism to combat the SARS CoV-2 virus. Each simulation that runs is like buying a lottery ticket: the more tickets are bought, the better the chances of hitting the jackpot.

Together with the Helmholtz platform HIFIS (Helmholtz Federated IT Services) and the Central Department for Information Services and Computing at the Helmholtz Centre Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), the scientists at CASUS provide free resources of the HZDR high performance computer “Hemera” and their high performance computer, which is equipped with 100 graphics cards and a total performance of 1 PetaFLOP/s. FLOP/s stands for Floating Point Operations Per Second and refers to the number of floating point operations used as a measure of the computing power of computers and processors.

“With about 500 PFLOPS, the Folding Project is now more powerful than all supercomputers in the world together and the supporters are growing daily. We are pleased to be able to support the COVID-19 research in this way,” says Dr. Michael Bussmann, from CASUS. The Saxon Minister of Science Sebastian Gemkow adds: “With the participation of the Helmholtz Centre Dresden-Rossendorf and CASUS in the international folding project, Saxony is making another important contribution in the fight against the corona virus. I would like to thank all partners very much for this”.

CASUS itself conducts digital interdisciplinary systems research and combines innovative methods such as simulations to give answers to urgent societal questions. The aim of the center is to create digital images of complex systems of unprecedented fidelity to reality. Partners are the Helmholtz Centre Dresden-Rossendorf (HZDR), the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research in Leipzig (UFZ), the Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics in Dresden (MPI-CBG), the Technical University of Dresden and the Wrocław University. The Center is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research and the Saxon State Ministry of Science, Culture and Tourism.

CASUS scientists take up challenge to fight Corona by joining EU wide Hackathon

CASUS scientists took part in the Pan-European Hackathon #EUvsVirus, that took place 24th to 26th April 2020. They came up with a project to optimize the location for mobile testing facilities on SARS-CoV-2. Ideas and results of this weekend are provided here: