Using the world’s most powerful supercomputers, scientists now have the ability to take massive amounts of data and find patterns and insights in minutes that would otherwise take them decades to discern.
The power of the partnership between the nation’s premier laboratory, which possesses the world’s fastest supercomputer, and one of the nation’s top-ranked public universities means harnessing the capabilities of data science to transform the future of medicine.
The University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory work hand in hand to solve the world’s most pressing health care problems using data science and high-speed computation. This unique partnership is making drug production cheaper, finding new uses for existing drugs, and creating a better understanding of a treatment’s potential side effects.
Supercomputers can sift through a sea of millions of chemicals to determine if any of them would be useful as potential drugs. Jeremy Smith, Governor’s Chair for Molecular Biophysics and director of the UT–ORNL Center for Molecular Biophysics, uses high-performance computing to find new drug and vaccine candidates for many common diseases. Computational work at UT and ORNL has successfully found drug and vaccine candidates that act effectively against a number of diseases, including prostate cancer, thrombosis, osteoporosis, diabetes, and strep infections.
Alongside collaborators from the UT Health Sciences Center, Smith’s team discovered a chemical compound that could lower blood sugar levels as effectively as the diabetes drug metformin but at a much lower dose. They have also conducted simulations that played a key role in discovering a new class of drugs to combat antibiotic resistance and engineered enzymes to use against the effects of chemical weapons. Smith’s team recently used ORNL’s Summit supercomputer to find drugs with high potential to fight SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.