Grown-up Sci-Origami: Crushing Hard on Folding@Home

Summer is winding down and so is conference season for me. No, I haven’t been able to get to any skeptical cons, because I have been busy attending chemistry ones. I assume they are quite a bit different, but they tend to have just as much fun drinky time while talking about awesome, cutting edge science. Keep reading below the fold to learn how to do your on SciOrgami at home.

Last month I had the great opportunity to attend and speak at the Fall 2012 National Meeting of the American Chemical Society in Philadelphia. This was an amazing experience that afforded me the chance to meet and listen to many famous chemists from around the world that previously I had only heard of. You sort of get to be a discrete fan girl for a week.

One of the most impressive was Vijay Pande of Stanford University in California. I suspected that he would be talented, after all he is a tenured faculty member at one of the most prestigious universities in the world.  However, I wasn’t quite prepared for his confidence, creativity, and brilliance that he brings to the scientific community. One of his most famous initiatives is Folding@Home, something you may have heard of. The program has been around since the early 2000s and what started out as a small project in his lab with a few students is now a global collaboration producing valuable results.

Folding@Home combines computing power to get information about protein structure, but more importantly how it gets to it most likely comformation. Proteins fold on short time scales — less than a second in people time. But in computer time these simulations can take years. The Pande group has focused on compiling resources from people around the world to gain insight into important biochemical problems that are still plaguing us related to protein folding. These problems relate to many diseases including Alzheimer’s disease, cystic fibrosis, Mad Cow disease, Huntington’s disease, cancer, and many more.

You can download the program on your computer or PlayStation3. Let’s do science! It is like grown-up origami!




Jacqueline, a true Floridian, wandered up to the tundra of Athens, Georgia to receive her PhD in computational quantum chemistry. Returning to her roots, she is currently working as a postdoctoral researcher in Tampa in the field of computational biochemistry investigating the wonders of penicillin-like drugs. When she is not slaving over the computer, her varied interests include international travel, Brazilian jiu jitsu, kickboxing, fancy food, (American) football, and Belgian quadrupels. She is also the founder of, a football blog with an exclusive female writing staff. Check out her sports ramblings there or follow her on Twitter @jhargis9.

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