Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:


Putting your computer to work to fight against malaria in Africa

While you are sending an email or surfing the web, your computer could be helping to tackle one of Africa’s major humanitarian challenges, malaria. Africa@home, a project conceived and coordinated by CERN , was launched publicly this week. It is recruiting volunteer computers in homes and offices to run a computer-intensive simulation program called , developed by researchers at the Swiss Tropical Institute (STI) .

Malaria is responsible for about a million deaths every year in sub-Saharan Africa, and is the single biggest killer in children under five. The program is being used to simulate how malaria spreads through Africa. Running the simulations on thousands of volunteer computers will enable researchers to better understand and improve the impact of introducing new treatments.

To install, volunteers just need to download the necessary software from the Africa@home website (, which will do the scientific calculations in the background, while they are doing something else. The results are regularly returned to a server at the University of Geneva , so that the researchers can evaluate them. Already, in a first test phase over several months with 500 volunteers, Africa@home was able to run simulations equivalent to 150 years of processing time on a single computer.

A key objective of the project was to involve African academic institutions in the development of the software. Thanks to the efforts of NGOs ICVolunteers and Informaticiens sans Frontieres , researchers from the University of Bamako in Mali and the Agence Universitaire de la Francophonie in Bamako and in Yaoundé, Cameroon, were able to join the project team, which was based at CERN. They were funded by the Geneva International Academic Network (GIAN) .

Speaking about the results obtained so far, Prof. Tom Smith of the Swiss Tropical Institute said “Africa@home and volunteer computing really open up new horizons for us scientifically. We have already done more epidemiological modelling in a few months than we could have achieved on our own computer cluster in a few years.”

Dr. Robert Aymar, Director General of CERN, emphasized the importance of knowledge sharing with Africa through such projects “CERN has traditionally been a meeting place for scientists from around the globe, and I am glad that we could host the joint African-European team that launched this project. This underlines our continued commitment to promoting the role of science in the information society, as emphasized at the World Summits on the Information Society in Geneva and Tunis.”

GIAN has just awarded another grant to the Africa@home project, to adapt other applications of significance to Africa to run on volunteer computers. The project will also train technical staff at African universities to manage the servers that run the volunteer computing projects, and help African researchers create their own volunteer computing projects. H.E. Mr. Adama Samassékou, President of ICVolunteers and previously Malian Minister of Education, noted that “getting Africans involved in world-class research like this is a great way to boost the self-esteem of the African scientific community, and putting African institutions at the heart of a worldwide scientific network will be a very concrete step towards bridging the digital divide.”

François Grey | alfa
Further information:

More articles from Information Technology:

nachricht Fraunhofer FIT joins Facebook's Telecom Infra Project
25.10.2016 | Fraunhofer-Institut für Angewandte Informationstechnik FIT

nachricht Stanford researchers create new special-purpose computer that may someday save us billions
21.10.2016 | Stanford University

All articles from Information Technology >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Etching Microstructures with Lasers

Ultrafast lasers have introduced new possibilities in engraving ultrafine structures, and scientists are now also investigating how to use them to etch microstructures into thin glass. There are possible applications in analytics (lab on a chip) and especially in electronics and the consumer sector, where great interest has been shown.

This new method was born of a surprising phenomenon: irradiating glass in a particular way with an ultrafast laser has the effect of making the glass up to a...

Im Focus: Light-driven atomic rotations excite magnetic waves

Terahertz excitation of selected crystal vibrations leads to an effective magnetic field that drives coherent spin motion

Controlling functional properties by light is one of the grand goals in modern condensed matter physics and materials science. A new study now demonstrates how...

Im Focus: New 3-D wiring technique brings scalable quantum computers closer to reality

Researchers from the Institute for Quantum Computing (IQC) at the University of Waterloo led the development of a new extensible wiring technique capable of controlling superconducting quantum bits, representing a significant step towards to the realization of a scalable quantum computer.

"The quantum socket is a wiring method that uses three-dimensional wires based on spring-loaded pins to address individual qubits," said Jeremy Béjanin, a PhD...

Im Focus: Scientists develop a semiconductor nanocomposite material that moves in response to light

In a paper in Scientific Reports, a research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute describes a novel light-activated phenomenon that could become the basis for applications as diverse as microscopic robotic grippers and more efficient solar cells.

A research team at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) has developed a revolutionary, light-activated semiconductor nanocomposite material that can be used...

Im Focus: Diamonds aren't forever: Sandia, Harvard team create first quantum computer bridge

By forcefully embedding two silicon atoms in a diamond matrix, Sandia researchers have demonstrated for the first time on a single chip all the components needed to create a quantum bridge to link quantum computers together.

"People have already built small quantum computers," says Sandia researcher Ryan Camacho. "Maybe the first useful one won't be a single giant quantum computer...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>



Event News

#IC2S2: When Social Science meets Computer Science - GESIS will host the IC2S2 conference 2017

14.10.2016 | Event News

Agricultural Trade Developments and Potentials in Central Asia and the South Caucasus

14.10.2016 | Event News

World Health Summit – Day Three: A Call to Action

12.10.2016 | Event News

Latest News

How nanoscience will improve our health and lives in the coming years

27.10.2016 | Materials Sciences

OU-led team discovers rare, newborn tri-star system using ALMA

27.10.2016 | Physics and Astronomy

'Neighbor maps' reveal the genome's 3-D shape

27.10.2016 | Life Sciences

More VideoLinks >>>