Folding at Home

Want to help the fight against COVID-19, but not sure how you or your company can best administer your resources during these uncertain times? Nexus PMG recently joined an army of at home scientists who are putting their PC’s graphic processors to good use by “folding” at home. This process offers up your spare computer capacity to run calculations that help scientists learn more about the viruses and diseases.

As a data driven company, Nexus PMG was particularly excited to learn more about this process. Zachary Phillips, a draftsperson and all-around office “techie” with Nexus PMG, first brought Folding@home to the company’s attention. Zach read an article on this process 2 years ago and when he discovered the benefits Folding@home can provide for disease research, he immediately began participating. He said, “My dad and uncle are both doctors so, as a family, we were naturally interested.” The “Folding” in Folding@home refers to the way human proteins fold in cells that make up the human body. The human body counts on these proteins and the way they assemble to keep it healthy. If these proteins have a “misfold” there can be serious consequences to our health.

Unfortunately, the study and imagery of the folding process can be quite intricate and requires many calculations. This is where the Folding@home army comes into action. The Folding@home software allows you to share your unused computing cycles so that scientists can research potential cures. Using this donated computing capacity, they can replicate the process and study visual snapshots of protein folding.  The current Folding@home network is 15 times more powerful than any existing supercomputers.

“The software runs in the background of your computer so as to not impact your day to day activities.”

The brains of the Folding@home operation are based at Washington University in the St. Louis School of Medicine where they are led by Dr. Greg Bowman. The software runs in the background of your computer so as to not impact your day to day activities. It was highly tested for security and safety before its release to the public in 2000. Since then it has supported research in curing such major diseases as cancer, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, influenza, and many more. Typically, you can select which disease you would like to “donate” your computing capacity towards, but during the pandemic all efforts will prioritize the fight against the novel coronavirus.

Although Nexus PMG is a team consisting of many engineers, techies, and general data fanatics – it does not take an engineer to participate in Folding@home. The Folding@home website provides easy and helpful instructions on downloading the software and, in most cases, once this is complete you will not have to give it another thought. A Folding@home icon will allow you to access your settings and statistics if you are interested, otherwise the software will run behind the scenes even when you are not using your computer. It will utilize the data that you are not using and automatically stop using your graphic processing unit if you need it for any reason. Additionally, you may uninstall the software at any time.

Through the Folding@home icon, you can see the number of points you’ve earned individually and as a team. You can also view statistics from other participating companies and your team ranking. The number of “units folded” is updated in real time, so you can always check on your contribution. The Folding@home team allows you to see which project you are contributing to and how many you’ve contributed to in the past. The Nexus PMG team is excited to contribute to the fight against COVID-19 and release updates on its use of the Folding@home process. Please visit the link below to join the Folding@home army!

Raj Daniels