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Volunteer computing projects[edit]

From its establishment in April 2001 until April 27, 2007,[1] was the website and organization that ran distributed computing projects such as the United Devices Cancer Research Project. It was sponsored philanthropically by United Devices (UD) and members participated in volunteer computing by running the UD Agent software (version 3.0).

Timeline of projects hosted by

Cancer Research Project[edit]

UD Agent running the LigandFit software for Cancer Research phase 2.

The United Devices Cancer Research Project, which began in 2001, was seeking possible drugs for the treatment of cancer using distributed computing.[2] There were around 150,000 users in the United States and 170,000 in Europe along with hundreds of thousands more in other parts of the world.

The project was an alliance of several companies and organisations:[3]

United Devices released the cancer research screensaver under the principle of using spare computing power. The program, which could be set to run continually, used "virtual screening" to find possible interactions between molecules and target proteins, i.e. a drug. These molecules (ligands) are sent to the host computer's UD Agent. When these molecules dock successfully with a target protein this interaction is scored for further investigation.

The research consisted of two phases:

  • Phase 1 tested over 3 billion drug-like molecules against 12 proteins which were known to be suitable targets for anti-cancer drugs. It used the "THINK" software for the simulation of the molecular interactions.[4]
  • Phase 2, using the "LigandFit" software developed by Accelrys to model interactions, sought to refine the Phase 1 data to produce a more manageable list of drug candidates for testing that would require experimental collaborators, including some from industry.[5][6]

Human Proteome Folding Project, phase 1[edit]

The IBM-sponsored Human Proteome Folding Project ("HPF"), phase 1, was announced on November 16, 2004 and was completed July 3, 2006. The project operated simultaneously on both and the IBM's World Community Grid.[7]

It made use of the "Rosetta" software to predict the structure of human proteins in order to help predict the function of proteins. This information may someday be used to help cure a variety of diseases and genetic defects.

According to an announcement on the forums,[8] after the HPF1 project was completed it was left to continue running on until August 9, 2006.[9] During that time, members whose computers were configured to run this project got new work and spent computing resources calculating a result, but the result was returned to for points only—it was not used for scientific research.

The status of the Human Proteome Folding Project caused some discussion on the forums. Most members wanted to see all available computing power directed toward the still-active cancer project,[9] but UD representative Robby Brewer asserted that "some [users] like the screensaver".[8][10] As noted above, in the end the redundant HPF1 work on was halted.[9]

Smallpox Project[edit]

The Smallpox Research Grid was a part of United Devices "Patriot Grid" initiative to fight biological terrorism. This project helped analyze potential drug candidates for a medical therapy in the fight against smallpox virus. It made use of the "LigandFit" software (that had already been used by phase 2 of the Cancer Research project), but with a specialized set of target molecules that targeted the smallpox virus.[11] 35 million potential drug molecules were screened against several smallpox proteins, resulting in 44 strong potential treatments.[citation needed]

The partners of the project included University of Oxford, the University of Western Ontario, Memorial Sloan–Kettering Cancer Center, Essex University, Evotec OAI, Accelrys, and IBM.[12]

The World Community Grid largely began because of the success of this project.[citation needed]

Anthrax Project[edit]

The Anthrax Research Project was a part of the United Devices "Patriot Grid" initiative to fight biological terrorism. It made use of the "LigandFit" software (that had already been used by phase 2 of the Cancer Research project), but with a specialized set of target molecules that targeted the advanced stages of anthrax bacterial infection.

The project was operated from January 22, 2002 until February 14, 2002 and ended after a total of 3.57 billion molecules had finished screening. The results of the research project were transmitted to biological scientists in order to finish the screening of the computational simulations.[13]

The partners of the project included Oxford University.

HMMER Project[edit]

The HMMER Genetic Research project made use of the Hidden Markov model to search for patterns in genetic DNA sequences.[14]

Webload Project[edit]

The Web Performance Testing project was operated as a commercial opportunity with select web hosting providers in order to help them test the scalability of their server infrastructures under periods of high-demand.[15]

Open source grid community[edit]

In November 2007, was repositioned by Univa as a community to allow users to interact and discuss open source cluster and grid related topics.[16] It allowed users to download, get support for, contribute to, and report issues about the open source Globus Toolkit based products offered by Univa. Over 100,000 unique visitors were reported in 2008.[17] Around mid 2010 it redirected to (a Univa product) and by 2012 it redirected to Univa's main site.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "All Good Things Come To An End…". Retrieved 2007-04-26. 
  2. ^ "Screensaver aids cancer fight". BBC News. 2001-04-03. Retrieved 2006-08-20. 
  3. ^ "Cancer Project Participants". Retrieved 2006-08-20. 
  4. ^ "Think phase 1 computation". University of Oxford. Retrieved 2006-08-20. 
  5. ^ "LigandFit explained". Retrieved 2006-08-20. 
  6. ^ "Phase 2 of the Project". University of Oxford. Retrieved 2006-08-20. 
  7. ^ "About The Human Proteome Folding Project". 2004. Retrieved 2006-08-20. 
  8. ^ a b Brewer, Robby (2006-07-10). " Status". forums. Retrieved 2006-08-20. 
  9. ^ a b c "Take responsibility". forums. 2006-07-17. Retrieved 2006-08-20. 
  10. ^ Brewer, Robby (2006-08-21). " status". forums. Retrieved 2006-08-20. 
  11. ^ "About The Smallpox Project". Retrieved 2006-08-20. 
  12. ^ "Smallpox participants". Retrieved 2006-08-20. 
  13. ^ "The Anthrax Research Project". Retrieved 2006-08-20. 
  14. ^ "Genetic Testing with HMMR". Retrieved 2006-08-20. 
  15. ^ "Web Performance Testing". Retrieved 2006-08-20. 
  16. ^ "About". Archived from the original on January 20, 2008. Retrieved November 11, 2013. 
  17. ^ " Open Source HPC Community Hits Growth Milestone". Press release (Univa). January 14, 2009. Archived from the original on January 21, 2009. Retrieved November 11, 2013.