A gay and lesbian staff group from computer company IBM has teamed up with Sydney Star Observer as part of a global project that’s harnessing computer power to fight HIV/AIDS.

The US-based World Community Grid takes unused computer capacity from members’ machines and sends it to a central pool, which researchers use for humanitarian causes.

IBM’s Employee Alliance for Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Empowerment (EAGLE) has joined with the Star to help provide data for the Grid’s FightAIDS@Home project.

The intent is to find new substances that block the maturity of the virus, IBM senior consultant and EAGLE member Grant MacKinnon said.

Each member registers on the World Community Grid website.

You download a small agent, which is a program that runs computer simulations.

That agent would then download some data -¦ for its computer simulation, and it runs in the background.

Members can run the secure program as a screensaver or as a background application that doesn’t interfere with system operations.

When a member’s computer is idle, it takes data from the World Community Grid server. It processes this information and sends it back to the server.

One of the first projects they had was Human Proteome Folding, which is contributing to research around things like cancer, MacKinnon said.

The institute that initiated that research project in the first year got 120 years’ worth of research back from the Grid, he said.

About 200,000 people have registered with the World Community Grid so far.

IBM’s EAGLE is running a competition among partner organisations -“ including the Star -“ to see which one can sign up the most members by the end of September.

The winner will receive $3,000 from IBM to donate to charity. If it wins, the Star will give the grant to the NSW Gay and Lesbian Counselling Service.

We’re looking to promote readers to join the SSO team so that the more results we get, the better chance we have of winning the $3,000 grant, MacKinnon said.

For more information about the World Community Grid and to sign up, click here.

When registering, make sure you select Sydney Star Observer as the team you wish to join.

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