What’s New in Computing vs. COVID-19: Frontera, KISTI, [email protected] & More

By Oliver Peckham

July 25, 2020

Supercomputing, big data and artificial intelligence are crucial tools in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic. Around the world, researchers, corporations and governments are urgently devoting their computing resources to this global crisis. This column collects the biggest news about how advanced technologies are helping us fight back against COVID-19.


Spanish National Center for Biotechnology uses supercomputing to investigate the onset of COVID-19 infection

Atos has announced that the Biocomputing Unit of the Spanish National Center for Biotechnology (CNB) is using its supercomputer resources to produce a detailed model of the coronavirus’ spike protein, helping researchers better understand how the virus initiates infection of a human host cell. In particular, the researchers are utilizing Atos’ BullSequana X supercomputer. To read more, click here.

Frontera hosts simulations of the coronavirus ‘ladder’

Similarly, Numan Oezguen of the Texas Children’s Hospital and the Baylor College of Medicine is simulating the conformational changes of the spike proteins as they latch onto the human ACE2 receptor. To run these simulations, Oezguen is using the Longhorn subsystem of the Frontera supercomputer at the Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC). Once Oezguen is able to observe the changes in the spike protein as it primes itself for infection, he is hopeful that researchers will be able to find better ways to disable it. To read more, click here.

Zeblok Computational partners with Laufer Center, CEWIT to aid COVID-19 drug discovery

Platform-as-a-service provider Zeblok Computational has announced that it has partnered with the Laufer Center for Physical and Quantitative Biology and the Center of Excellence in Wireless and Information Technology (CEWIT) at Stony Brook University to provide a scalable supercomputing-as-a-service platform for SARS-CoV-2 simulations at the Laufer Center. The Laufer Center will use the resources to simulate three key proteins of the virus for drug development purposes. To read more, click here.

Three Arizona universities donate computing resources to [email protected]’s COVID-19 research

The University of Arizona, Arizona State University and Northern Arizona University are all contributing research computing resources to the crowdsourced computing initiative [email protected] in support of its COVID-19 simulation projects. Already, the newly formed Arizona Research Computing team is placing in the top 60 contributors to [email protected] out of nearly 250,000 competing teams. To read more, click here.

The Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) joins State Epidemiological Observatory initiative

Catalonia is host to the new State Epidemiological Observatory, which will aim to use big data and AI techniques to develop a collection of epidemiological models for public health institutions to better prevent, detect and mitigate the spread of epidemics and pandemics. The Barcelona Supercomputing Center (BSC) is one of the participating centers and will be developing a pandemic model aimed at prevention strategies. To read more, click here.

KISTI joins the COVID-19 HPC consortium

The Korea Institute of Science and Technology Information (KISTI) has joined the COVID-19 High Performance Consortium, bringing the consortium to 42 members. KISTI brings with it the KISTI-5 supercomputer (called Nurion), which currently ranks 17th in the Top500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers. Nurion has already played host to a variety of COVID-19 research projects, including the successful identification of eight COVID-19 drug candidates. To read more, click here.

Australian researchers use supercomputers to build drug databases for COVID-19 testing

Researchers at the University of Queensland are updating the Automated Topology Builder (ATB), a molecular modeling tool that generates 3D models for a given molecular structure, to ensure that all pharmaceuticals that have passed certain trials for human safety are incorporated. The researchers are hoping that the updated ATB, made possible by the Gadi supercomputer, will prove useful for COVID-19 researchers aiming to find viables therapeutics for the virus. To read more, click here.


Do you know about COVID-19 research that should be featured on this list? If so, send us an email at [email protected]. We look forward to hearing from you.

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