White House recruits IBM, Amazon & more to use supercomputers for COVID-19 research

Researchers developing cures and vaccines can now apply for access to some of the world's fastest computers to accelerate their work, courtesy of the White House's newly announced COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium.

Proposals submitted to the consortium will be assessed by members with IT, biology and epidemiology expertise to determine which pose the greatest potential public health benefit and can be executed fastest. Research teams selected by the consortium will be granted free, remote access to 16 of the nation's supercomputers.

The consortium was established by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the U.S. Department of Energy and IBM. Other partners include Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft, several federal agencies and national laboratories, and more.

In a news release, Dario Gil, PhD, director of IBM Research, explained how supercomputing power can be used to fight the coronavirus, and already have begun to do so.

"As a powerful example of the potential, IBM's Summit, the most powerful supercomputer on the planet, has already enabled researchers at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the University of Tennessee to screen 8,000 compounds to find those that are most likely to bind to the main 'spike' protein of the coronavirus, rendering it unable to infect host cells. They were able to recommend the 77 promising small-molecule drug compounds that could now be experimentally tested," he wrote.

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