"It's a completely passive approach," Zaman says. "There are no viruses or no spam that can compromise the performance of their machines."
Among the approximate 1,000 users, there have been no instances of computer problems, he says. Users are from countries such as: Argentina, Australia, China, Denmark, France, Israel, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan and Venezuela.
Zaman emphasizes the project also will stress dialogue and communication with the worldwide users, which he hopes will number 100,000 people someday.
"We'll soon have forums where contributors from all over the world will be able to provide feedback to us about what are some of the most challenging problems in cancer that they would like to study," he says. "Thus, we are making a global effort to solve a global problem."
Already, the program has yielded enough information in just two months for two journal articles.
"What took months can be done now in days or weeks," Zaman says. "It's amazing."
He says CELS@Home goes beyond traditional grid computing to incorporate a multi-scale systems biology approach.
"Instead of studying one molecule or one gene, it is studying a host of problems in cancer," Zaman says. "Cancer, as we know, is not a disease of a single gene or a single cell, but in fact it is a problem that involves thousands of genes, signals and molecular components. Understanding cancer requires understanding the system in its proper context, not just a tiny bit of the problem."
He says computations may take one day, one week or a month to complete, depending on the user's amount of idle time and computer speed. Any amount of idle time is beneficial, Zaman says. Once a computation is completed, the user will receive another computation, and so on. The user can opt out of the program at any time.
|Contact: Muhammad Zaman|
University of Texas at Austin