TCD Computers Come Together to Battle Avian Flu

Posted on: 09 May 2006

Computers in Ireland have been working overtime in the fight against avian flu. As part of an international collaboration, computers at Trinity College Dublin have put in 6,700 hours of time searching for possible drug components against the avian flu virus H5N1. The analysis used a computing grid, a new network that brings together worldwide computer resources to solve scientific problems.

The drug discovery software was coordinated by scientists from Taiwan, France, Italy and CERN (Switzerland). Two thousand computers – the equivalent of 100 years on a single computer- were used throughout Asia and Europe during four weeks to analyse 300,000 possible drug components against the killer virus.

The computers housed in Trinity College are part of the Irish national computational grid, Grid -Ireland, encompassing 18 third level institutions nationally. Grid-Ireland is part of the EGEE project (Enabling Grids for e-Science) that lets other scientists share its resources.

“The Grid is useful for any kind of research that needs to gather together lots of computing power. In this case, it’s greatly speeded up the search for drugs for against avian flu, and we’ve been happy to use Grid-Ireland to help”, commented Dr Brian Coghlan, Director of the Grid-Ireland Operations Centre in the Department of Computer Science, Trinity College.