“What is there in common between the fight against avian flu, the development of drugs against malaria, the quest to understand the first instants of the Universe and research on climate change? All these topics require a huge amount of computer power and data storage capacity that can be satisfied with the Grid.
In the last week of September, over 500 scientists and software engineers from Europe and around the world met in Geneva for a conference devoted to the Enabling Grids for E-sciencE (EGEE) project, the global Grid computing infrastructure project led by CERN, which is changing the way science is done. One example that the experts assembled in Geneva discussed is how Grid computing is helping in the battle against avian flu and other diseases.
During the month of April, the Grid was used in the fight against the lethal H5N1 avian flu virus. Thanks to the Grid infrastructure of the EGEE project, six laboratories in Europe and Asia analysed 300 000 chemical compounds in search of potential drugs for treating the disease. This research, which involved 2000 computers linked together around the globe, in part thanks to software developed at CERN, helped to identify the most likely compounds able to inhibit the enzyme N1 that is part of the virus. In one month, the collaboration achieved the equivalent of 100 years processing on a single computer. ”