Ithaca, NY --Visitors to this year's Supercomputing '95 (SC'95) conference will witness a life-and-death struggle between parasite and victim, using virtual reality to follow the villain on its voyage through the human body as Cornell Theory Center's (CTC) featured application on I-WAY demonstrates remote interactive use of Visual Insight Zone to search for a molecular cure to Chagas disease. Chagas disease afflicts more than 18 million people in tropical America and is caused by a parasite, Trypansoma cruzi, that enters the body through mucus membranes. Passing through the circulatory system and invading individual tissue cells, it frequently causes heart disease. High levels of the chemical, trypanothione, in the cells of the parasite protect it from naturally toxic byproducts of metabolism in the cell under attack. This chemical is regulated in the cell by an enzyme called trypanothione reductase. Drugs that inhibit this enzyme should kill the parasite. "At the demonstration, we will witness a reconstruction of the life cycle of the parasite, including a voyage into the human bloodstream. Then we will conduct a session of parallel computer-assisted drug design -- an attempt to kill the parasite inside the human body," said CTC visualization specialist Richard Gillilan. "If all goes according to plan, Cornell researchers working with us on the project will join us in the virtual space to assist with the drug design." Gillilan collaborates with Dr. Carlos Faerman of Cornell's biochemistry department, in work supported by the National Center for Research Resources at the National Institutes of Health, to model and visualize trypanothione reductase. Currently, the researchers use CTC's Visual Insight Zone to evaluate a number of drug compounds to see if they will bind to the enzyme. The Visual Insight Zone encompasses CTC's interactive high-end visualization and virtual reality resources. For the SC'95 demonstration, video and audio information will be passing between Gillilan in San Diego and Faerman in CTC's Visual Insight Zone in Ithaca, New York. To the local observer, the remote facility will appear to be a moving cube out in virtual space with live video images of the researchers pasted onto one face. "The I-WAY will link many of the country's fastest computers and most advanced visualization environments in an experimental configuration based on Asynchronous Transfer Mode (ATM) technology," said Rick Stevens, director of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division, Argonne National Laboratory and co-organizer (with Tom DeFanti, director of the Electronic Visualization Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Chicago) of the I-WAY project. ATM is an emerging standard for advanced telecommunications networks. The I-WAY will rely primarily on a combination of existing networks, with some additional connectivity and services provided by multiple national service providers. "The I-WAY represents the first truly national-scale ATM testbed for high-performance computing collaboration among carriers, scientists, research institutions, and industry," noted CTC director Malvin H. Kalos. "As such, it is a great opportunity to demonstrate the potential of a future high-performance Global Information Infrastructure." CTC is one of several core sites for the I-WAY, assisting in the areas of security, network connectivity, and job scheduling as well as in implementation of an AFS file system distributed at sites across the nation. Selected I-WAY applications will have access to CTC's 512-node IBM RS/6000 POWERParallel System (SP) to demonstrate advanced capabilities. One focus of the I-WAY project is the close coupling of immersive virtual environments and supercomputing. CTC's application is made possible by integrating software developed by academic computational chemists and computer scientists at Cornell and IBM. The application uses the computational capability of the SP at CTC and relies on the two sites being linked together via high-speed communications links. CTC's OC-3c (155Mbps) ATM link to the vBNS will be used for this purpose.