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“In order to combat the devastating effects of this pandemic, we must grasp the complexities and interconnectedness of biological systems and epidemiological data, as researchers work to develop therapeutic interventions and address gaps in our knowledge,” said Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, winner of the 2001 Black Engineer of the Year Award and the president of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

According to Monday’s statement from the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the new COVID-19 High-Performance Computing Consortium aims to provide researchers with access to the world’s most powerful high-performance computing resources in the fight to stop the virus.

Rensselaer’s Artificial Intelligence Multiprocessing Optimized System, or AiMOS, is an IBM POWER9-equipped supercomputer configured to enable users to explore AI applications. Ranked as the most powerful supercomputer housed at a private university, AiMOS supports the work of Rensselaer faculty, students, and staff who are engaged in a number of ongoing collaborations that employ and advance AI technology.

“America is coming together to fight COVID-19, and that means unleashing the full capacity of our supercomputers to rapidly advance scientific research for treatments and a vaccine. We thank the private sector and academic leaders who are joining the federal government as part of the Trump Administration’s whole-of-America response,” said Michael Kratsios, U.S. Chief Technology Officer.

The computing systems available through this Consortium can process massive numbers of calculations related to bioinformatics, epidemiology, and molecular modeling, helping scientists develop answers to complex scientific questions about COVID-19 in hours or days versus weeks or months.

“In particular, the ability to model at very large scales requires the unique capabilities of AiMOS, ” Jackson added.

The public-private consortium, spearheaded by The White House, the U.S. Department of Energy, and IBM, features leading tech organizations that have volunteered free compute time and resources on their machines.

The list includes IBM, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard Enterprise,  Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Rensselaer, U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratories, including Argonne, Lawrence Livermore, Los Alamos, Oak Ridge, and Sandia, as well as federal agencies such as NASA and the National Science Foundation.

“The National Science Foundation is pleased to join the COVID-19 HPC Consortium,” said France Cordova, director of the National Science Foundation. “Frontera and other NSF-funded advanced computing resources will enable the nation’s science and engineering community to pursue data science, computational modeling, and artificial intelligence approaches to help us accelerate our understanding of COVID-19 and strategies for responding to the pandemic.”

Christopher Hill, head of MIT’s research computing infrastructure, said computing and AI have a major role to play in bringing Covid-19 under control.

“We want to do our part by making MIT’s two most powerful machines, Satori and TX-GAIA, available to researchers who are racing to understand the virus, model the outbreak, and accelerate drug discovery and design,” he said. “This will be a team effort, and we hope our actions will inspire others to throw their computing power and brainpower at the virus.”

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