Crowdsourcing to Address Intractable Problems in Science and Health

Sunday, 16 February 2014
Grand Ballroom E (Hyatt Regency Chicago)
Firas Khatib , University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Can the brainpower of humans worldwide be brought to bear on critical problems posed in computational biology, such as structure determination of proteins and design of novel enzymes? Yes! We have worked with and studied how citizen scientists, most of whom have little or no prior biochemistry experience, have uncovered knowledge that eluded scientists for years. Players of the online protein folding video game Foldit have been able to determine a crystal structure of a previously unsolved protein, as well as enhancing the activity of a designed enzyme. These exciting results demonstrate the combined power of humans and computers by introducing a new approach: distributed computing driven by human intuition.