Although I’m not a medical professional, I am interested in using computers to facilitate solving medical problems.

You may have heard about the Folding at Home program. They study protein folding by successively calculating how a protein proceeds to be manipulated according to scientific principles. The calculation is done step-by-step, or in serial. Contrasted to this is more "parallel" calculations, in which many combinations are analyzed at the same time. For instance, we could inquire as to which compound(s) bind to a particular protein. There may be a million or more different combinations that can occur. If we more compounds are added to this this compound, there may be a million new combinations that bond to each and every of the previous million combinations, for a total of a million times a million combinations. If we continue adding to this structure, we will have a million * a million * a million * etc...

I was wondering if anyone has fit some medical questions into this type of "parallel" computation. My motivation comes from studying this type of calculation from a computing standpoint, and I wonder what types of problems might fit into this framework. I'm really hoping that there will be many medical problems that fit this type of "parallelism", but I don't know medicine/biology very well. Any help, such as ideas, papers, or even people that I could talk with about this would be greatly appreciated. I am really just looking for someone to point me in the right direction. Please forgive me if I am being overbroad, but it seems like this is the one good place where I can reach an expert who can point me in the right direction.


I'm looking for any projects like this, new or old.

  • I just wrote an answer telling you what projects do exist, but rereading your question, that's not actually what's you're asking, is it? You are looking for problems that could lead to a new project, right?
    – YviDe
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 8:52
  • @YviDe: Actually, I'd be very pleased to hear about any projects like this, new or old. I'll modify the question to reflect this, and thank you very much for your interest!
    – Matt Groff
    Commented Mar 28, 2016 at 11:20

1 Answer 1


Drug research and epidemiology are two areas that lend themselves to distributed computing, and there are several existing projects that you can look at.

There are several BOINC projects for medical projects, for example:

The World Community Grid also has some medical projects for distributed computing, among them:

All those pages should have information on the projects and contact information.

Then there's finished projects, which should all have information available on what was done, and what came out of it if the results were already analyzed.

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