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Folding@home (FAH or F@h) is a distributed computing project for disease research that simulates protein folding, computational drug design, and other types of molecular dynamics. As of today, the project is using the idle resources of personal computers owned by volunteers from all over the world. Proteins are the elementary machines inside every cell that we rely on to keep us alive and healthy. They assemble themselves by “folding.” When proteins misfold, there can be serious health consequences. If we better understand protein misfolding we can design drugs and therapies to combat these illnesses. Folding is a very complex process, and it’s often challenging to study in the laboratory. It’s amazing that not only do proteins self-assemble — fold — but they do so amazingly quickly: some as fast as a millionth of a second. While this time is very fast on a person’s timescale, it’s remarkably long for computers to simulate. Our group has developed multiple new ways to simulate protein folding which can break the fundamental barrier of simulating experimental timescales by dividing the work between multiple processors in a new way — with a near linear speedup in the number of processors. Thus, with power of Folding@home (approximately 500,000 processor-cores), we have successfully smashed the millisecond barrier and helped to unlock the mystery of how proteins fold.

Read more about the data in this collection in the following Data Story: Folding@home.

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