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IBM Helps You Donate Computer Power to Fight Ebola

New Ebola vaccine testing underway 0:15

IBM has engineered a way for everyone to join the fight against Ebola — by donating processing time on their personal computers, phones or tablets to researchers. IBM has teamed with scientists at Scripps Research Institute in southern California on a project that aims to combine the power of thousands of small computers, to each attack tiny pieces of a larger medical puzzle that might otherwise require a supercomputer to solve. "This could let us do in months what it would otherwise take years and years to do," said Erica Ollmann Saphire, a biomedical researcher at Scripps. The idea isn't new: Several universities and research institutes have used so-called distributed computing to tackle complex problems. For the last 10 years IBM has sponsored a project called World Community Grid, in which volunteers agree to download software that takes advantage of unused processing capacity on their devices. About 680,000 individuals in 80 countries have enrolled in the IBM program, said IBM vice president Stan Litow. They've donated computing power to help scientists at several institutions conduct research into malaria, AIDS, cancer and environmental issues. The free downloadable software, available at www.worldcommunitygrid.org, works on Windows or Mac computers and Android mobile devices, although not Apple Inc.'s iPhone or iPad.

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--- The Associated Press