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New Android App Helps TSRI Researchers Fight AIDS



New Android App Helps TSRI Researchers Fight AIDS

The Scripps Research Institute (TSRI) and IBM have been working together in an effort to help battle AIDS using the massive computational power of World Community Grid, a global community of Internet users who donate unused time on their personal computers. With computational power placing it among the top 10 supercomputers in the world, World Community Grid has been the first "virtual supercomputer" devoted specifically to AIDS research and other projects that benefit humanity.

Now, thanks to new software, owners of Android-based smartphones and tablets can also join the effort.

Millions of Computations

TSRI Professor Arthur Olson and his team have been deploying World Community Grid computer power for FightAIDS@Home, a project dedicated to finding new AIDS therapies in the face of evolving drug resistance of the virus. Massive computational power is essential for the success of the project because the pool of potential drug molecules, as well as that of possible mutant HIV proteins that may evolve, is enormous.

"The computational challenges in approaching this problem are the vast number of possible mutations that may occur and the huge number of possible chemical compounds that might be tested against them," Olson said. "We are running millions upon millions of docking computations to evaluate potential interactions between compounds and mutant viral proteins."

To date, individuals and businesses, foundations, associations, universities and not-for-profit organizations have fueled World Community Grid by donating the idle and unused time on their computers. More than 100,000 participants have participated by downloading World Community Grid's free, easy and safe software and registering at, to run these calculations on over 2 million computers in 80 countries.

A New Opportunity

The explosion of smartphones now offers a new opportunity. Currently, there are about 900 million Android devices, and their total computing power exceeds that of the largest conventional supercomputers.

To enable owners of Android devices to participate in World Community Grid, software developers at the University of California, Berkeley, have updated volunteer computing software called Berkeley Open Infrastructure for Network Computing (BOINC). Compatible with Android 2.3 or higher, BOINC can be downloaded from the Google Play site.

To preserve battery life, minimize recharge time and limit data use on cellphone plans, devices running BOINC on default settings will perform calculations only when the phones are being charged, the battery life is above 90 percent and the devices are connected to WiFi. 

Android users can help with this humanitarian project by downloading the BOINC app at:

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An Android app called BOINC, which can be downloaded to a smartphone or tablet from Google Play, donates unused computing time to projects such as FightAIDS@Home.