How Distributed Computing Projects Revolutionize Medicine And Therapy

Technological advancements in computing power are enabling breakthroughs in research and medicine. Researchers use computational techniques to gain insights on how diseases develop and potential therapy methods. However, accessing enough computational power for supercomputers can be expensive. Furthermore, these resources are not easily accessible.

Distributed computing allows a computing project to be distributed across multiple machines. Some research teams now rely on an international network of volunteers who donate their spare CPU time to crunch scientific calculations. These volunteer distributed computing projects tap into the computing power of millions of personal computers globally. Through this, they discover new treatments and therapy methods for diseases, such as cancer, COVID-19, and Alzheimer’s disease.

A Crash Course Into Protein Structure

There are dozens of volunteer distributed computing projects. But most of the prominent ones focus on understanding protein structure. Proteins are biological molecules essential for most of our bodily processes. As our cells produce proteins, they fold and reassemble into extremely complex structures. These structures consist of smaller pieces called amino acids. Even small changes in protein structure can cause drastic changes in function.

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Understanding the structure of certain proteins is critical to identifying possible treatments and therapy for diseases. For example, some research on Alzheimer’s disease suggests that misfolded amyloid proteins lead to brain damage seen in patients. Infectious agents, such as the virus that cause COVID-19 to rely on protein receptors to invade cells. Identifying the structure of the receptor protein can help researchers create treatments to block it.

Unfortunately, identifying the complete structure of proteins is difficult. Common experimental techniques involve crystallizing the protein and using X-rays to obtain information. This method requires a proper crystallization technique for the protein. However, this may not exist for newly discovered ones yet. Additionally, the use of reagents and specialized machines also increases the cost of this technique.

An alternative to experimental methods is to calculate the protein structure. It’s possible through analyzing how protein components interact with each other and with the environment. Proteins can contain millions of atoms and take on a myriad of conformations. Therefore, massive amounts of computational power are necessary.

Volunteer Distributed Computing Projects

Supercomputers can provide the calculation effort needed for analyzing proteins. But they are not always available to research teams. Volunteer distributed computing is an alternative solution. It splits the workload across multiple computers, making analysis more accessible for research teams.

A server splits a computational job into smaller work units that a regular computer can handle. This occurs in a typical distributed computing setup. Volunteers use a program to connect to the server and download the work units. All the processing happens locally, and the client program sends results from completed units back to the server.

The client program for these distributed computing projects handles the computations automatically. Users can continue with their daily tasks while the program crunches calculations in the background. Many client programs are designed to run at a lower priority than other computer programs. This way, they won’t noticeably slow down the computer. They also allow users to fine-tune the amount of computing power allocated to the computing task.

Rosetta@Home

Rosetta@home is one of the classic volunteer distributed computing programs in biology. The Baker Laboratory runs the project at the University of Washington. It has been active in researching malaria, cancer, Alzheimer’s, and HIV since 2005.

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Rosetta@home takes a creative approach in determining correct protein structures. They base this approach on a fundamental principle. All molecules adopt structures that require the least energy as they provide the most stability. A program can repeatedly determine its most stable form. It can do so by making small changes to a protein structure model and calculating its energy changes.

The processing software of Rosetta@home works with an initial structure model. It repeatedly makes tweaks until it finds the most stable configuration. Then, it sends the final structure back to servers for compilation. Using the initial model can influence the final calculated structure. With this, the server uses randomized starting models for each work unit to ensure better validity.

Signing up for Rosetta@home is straightforward. Users only need to install BOINC, a platform for distributed computing projects. Within the BOINC interface, users can select the Rosetta@home project to start calculations. Participants also earn points for each completed work unit. The client program is compatible with computers running Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems. It can even run on mobile phones, tablets, and customized hardware.

The Rosetta@home project has accomplished many achievements. One of which is leading the development of a new cancer-drug candidate and a potential COVID-19 vaccine. Several drug candidates for treating COVID-19 have also emerged. These are thanks to the computational efforts of volunteers. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the Rosetta@home project reached 1.26 petaFLOPS of computing power in March 2020. This value is equivalent to around two quadrillion calculations per second.

Folding@home

Another project, Folding@home, was released back in 2000. It has seen a recent surge in popularity due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The project operates from Washington University in St. Louis and works on COVID-19, cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and Huntington’s disease.

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Folding@home tackles a different approach for computing protein structures. While Rosetta@home focuses on the final structure of the protein, Folding@home runs simulations. Its method identifies how protein structures evolve as proteins. This approach allows a more in-depth analysis of each protein. However, it reduces the number of proteins that can be calculated.

While Folding@home does not utilize the BOINC platform, registration is also easy. Volunteers have to download and run the software from the website. Users can work in teams and collectively earn points to rank in the public leaderboards.

Calculations from Folding@home work units have contributed to over 225 research papers. The entire network became the world’s first exaFLOP system. This means that the network was able to perform more than a billion calculations per second.

Wrapping Up

Computers are becoming more and more powerful. Thus, the world can expect even more results from volunteer distributed computing projects. Maybe one day, the cure for cancer, Alzheimer’s, or even mental illnesses will come from computers across the globe. These computing projects empower citizens to contribute toward solving the greatest health problems. What better way for humanity to come together than to save numerous lives?

How Person-Centered Counseling Works

In the field of biotechnology, data analysis is important. It develops solutions for complex biological problems. Furthermore, this field aids academic institutions in improving their studies. Biotechnology can provide great results with the use of computational biology. It can translate to molecular and physiological developments. Computational biology contributes to biomedicine, experimental, and clinical research.

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Computational biology creates a secure foundation for the research sciences since it is data-driven. There is, though, very little attention given to those who work hard. These people devote their lives to the advancement of science. It’s also crucial to understand the role of people in the field of biotechnology. They should be humanized and tended to when they feel physically and emotionally drained.

Person-centered counseling can help people discover their potential by focusing on their desire to improve. A person-centered counselor will assist them in realizing their full potential. They can also help people recognize their motivations and drive to change.

The Theory Behind the Approach

In the 1940s, Carl Rogers developed person-centered therapy as a tool for counseling. The core of this therapy is the humanistic psychological approach, where people are perceived as inherently good. They have good intentions, ethical and moral values. And these are the driving forces of their behavior.

Person-centered counseling sees human beings striving to reach their full potential. It stresses a person’s ability to learn and evolve as well as their willingness to do so. Other treatments are based on the belief that individuals are inherently flawed, while Rogers emphasizes humans’ intrinsic need to seek self-actualization.

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What Person-Centered Counseling Address

Humans, like any other living organism, have the natural need to evolve and improve. Person-centered therapy has been used to address a wide range of mental and emotional problems. Your counselor recognizes that empathy and unconditional positive regard can help people change. In this case, a person-centered counselor can guide you to:

  • Increase self-confidence
  • Improve trust in their decisions
  • Find a stronger sense of identity
  • Build healthy interpersonal relationships
  • Manage anxiety and depressive symptoms
  • Alleviate stress
  • The process of grief or abuse
  • Improve other mental health conditions

Person-centered counseling provides the best results for people who are undergoing situational stress. It also involves more effort initiated by the patient to improve themselves. With this, they can fully recognize thoughts, feelings, and emotions influencing their behavior. A person-centered counselor can help you become more open to new experiences.

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Therapy Techniques Used in Person-Centered Counseling

Person-centered counselors may focus on the person’s ability to provide solutions for their problems. They avoid using traditional treatment methods and have developed interventions to depersonalize their patient’s relationships. The act of nonjudgmental and active listening is the primary approach used. In this type of communication, your counselor can help express empathy and congruence.

Common therapy techniques in person-centered counseling involve the following guidelines:

Establishing Clear Boundaries

In therapeutic relationships, boundaries are crucial. This is necessary to keep the connection from being inefficient. Your counselor can impose objectivity when describing personal experiences. The therapy session will be more effective if a specific boundary is established.

Not Leading The Patient

As previously mentioned, counselors should let you explore your own experiences. It’s crucial not to guide you into specific actions to encourage you to solve your own problems. You, as the patient,  take the lead in the conversation.

Avoiding Giving Advice

In accordance with the previous guideline, your counselor should also refrain from making choices for you. This would undermine your capacity and responsibility for your actions. Allowing yourself to recognize your potential for decision-making empowers you as an individual.

Promote Nonjudgmental Attitude

Often, you will feel extremely judged by your counselor. But, your counselor will use a nonjudgmental approach in person-centered counseling to help you feel more comfortable. They will assist you in overcoming feelings of inadequacy, disappointment, and low self-worth. 

Accepting Negative Emotions

There will be times when you will also feel frustrated with your counselor. You may feel vulnerable and disappointed during the sessions. Your counselor will help you verbalize your negative emotions to deal with them along the process effectively. Since patients may relate these feelings to a previous experience, they may also provide insight into this connection.

Effectivity Of Person-Centered Counseling

Similar to any therapy, the effectiveness of person-centered counseling can vary for each individual. Yet, both the American Psychological Association and the National Institutes of Health have reviewed the essence of this therapy. According to studies, person-centered counseling provides relative benefits in terms of:

These three qualities predict great outcomes for conscious patients. In these cases, the perception of the patients is also critical for the success of the sessions. Several studies also show that person-centered therapy can improve the severity of mental health disorders. The most important factor is how your counselor uses active and nonjudgmental communication in your therapy.

Final Words

Being a person of science can be extremely demanding. The life of scientists and researchers may involve a strong mental and emotional capacity. Although viewed as one of the most important jobs among industries, being a computational biologist can be exhausting.

In this case, you need to seek help. Person-centered counseling can provide you a humanistic approach to solving your problems. This type of therapy works to improve your self-confidence and decision-making skills. Since it also relies heavily on your effort, you may also explore your experiences better. Along the way, you will learn how difficult situations may have helped you achieve your true potential.

Your counselor will also provide you with an active and nonjudgmental environment to express your negative feelings during the sessions. This is necessary to facilitate overall mental and emotional healing. Although the effectiveness of this type of counseling varies, it still provides positive outcomes. 

Additionally, it also has shown a significant effect on reducing symptoms of mental health conditions. You should always remember that your motivation and drive are still the primary factors contributing to change. And this can ultimately affect the effectiveness of person-centered counseling.

The Importance of Career Counseling for Science Students

If you are a science student, or if you plan to focus on science in the future, you may have come across the words ‘computational biology’ when surfing the web for possible fields of study. Computational biology is an area of biotechnology that analyzes data to solve biological problems. It aids institutes, universities, and biotechnology firms in improving their scientific studies.

You might be wondering if this field is suitable for you at all. Once you graduate, you’ll start thinking about the kind of profession you want to pursue. Would it be a career in engineering? In biochemistry? Maybe in biotechnology?

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Career planning is important, especially for science students like you. Most of the time, this planning will involve asking for advice from your family and friends. You also have to consider your financial capacity or lack thereof. However, seeking professional assistance and counsel is never a bad idea.

Career counseling can help you understand yourself better to make sound decisions when it comes to your career. Read on to learn about the importance of career counseling.

Career Counseling Can Help You Set Your Goals

Probably the most crucial part of choosing a profession recognizes your goals. Developing your career is a process extending to your lifetime. From the jobs you acquire to the lifestyle you want to live, planning for your future is crucial to this process. 

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In this case, your counselor may engage you in discussions and assessments to determine your career goals. You may be asked to talk about the following:

  • Personal values, interests, and hobbies
  • Learning capabilities
  • Ability to resolve conflict
  • Relationship with teachers and co-students

As a science major, your goals should align with your values in life. Your practice is responsible for innovation, discovery, and the advancement of mankind. Career counseling can help you establish clear and achievable goals that correspond to your interests and values. 

Career Counseling Can Help You Identify Your Career Choices

Identifying your career opportunities as a student pursuing a science degree is also a vital process. Career counseling will help you learn more about your options. Your counselor can discuss strategies to help you find companies based on your interests. They can also help you in expanding your options depending on your goals.

Career path for science majors include:

  • Clinical research
  • Biology and biotechnology
  • Engineering
  • Astronomy
  • Chemistry and biochemistry 
  • Psychology
  • Environmental science
  • Geology

These are only a handful of the many career options available to you as a science major. If you are overwhelmed in choosing your profession, a career counseling session can be beneficial. Your counselor will help you narrow down a career where your skills are a great fit.

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Career Counseling Can Help Identify Your Strengths and Weaknesses

In career counseling, your counselor will help you explore your strengths and weaknesses. First, they will consider your level of education. As a science major, your strengths may already include logistic and mathematical intelligence. It does, however, depend on the person.

You will be put through a series of personality tests, aptitude tests, IQ tests, and psychometric analysis tests to determine your abilities. Such tests are designed to assess your natural skills and match them to specific career components. An example of these tests is the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator. This test helps individuals to determine their possible profession based on their personality traits and characteristics.

Recognizing your strengths and weaknesses can help you identify the areas you excel in and your lack of skills. It can improve your career judgment, so you can avoid careers that will only frustrate you. Career counseling can provide you with this information ahead of time to prepare for what career to take.

Career Counseling Can Provide You With Emotional Support

The majority of mismatched people at work experience significantly higher levels of stress than those who fit with their job. These people can experience symptoms of depression and anxiety related to job stress. Career counseling will help you choose a career that is a good fit for your mental and emotional health. Your career counselor can provide emotional support while you figure out what profession best fits your personality.

During the session, you may be asked to share your experiences while at the university. Your career counselor might initiate a discussion about unsatisfying or stressful events in your life. They will help you process these situations while determining what career options to avoid and the choices you can take.

Other Benefits of Career Counseling

Aside from these, career counseling can also provide you an objective insight into your career goals. Your career counselor can help you figure out the middle ground between what you want to do and what is a good fit for you. During the sessions, your counselor should provide you with an environment that is safe and comfortable for you to talk about your career prospects casually. Career counseling also identifies your drives and motivations for success without limiting these.

Depending on what you need, there are particular career counseling programs where you learn how to apply for positions and prepare for interviews. Your career counselor can help you practice how to answer interview questions. They can also help you improve your communication and negotiation skills.

You will learn about networking techniques while consulting with your career counselor. They will assist you in finding science-related training and development programs.

Competing with other applicants in research, engineering, and other science-related fields is difficult enough. As a science major, you would want to have a resource advantage. Your career counselor can refer you to other career workshops to improve your writing and present your curriculum vitae. They can also provide you with other necessary tools to increase your job searching skills.

Final Word

It takes a long process to become a professional in a field of science. There will be cause for worry about the future. The journey will probably be overwhelming. Career counseling can help you deal with your worries and address job-related concerns. It will help you to define your life goals and make long-term plans.

To make sound decisions about your career choices, you should know what your strengths and weaknesses are. Your career counselor can provide you with the emotional support and guidance needed during the process. When it comes to your profession, seeking an expert can give you an advantage.

How A Family Is Changed Because Of The New Normal

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The pandemic has been a challenging time for humankind. Many families have been affected, and people are struggling, looking for alternative ways to bring food to the table since many office-based jobs have been stopped. Thankfully, technology has advanced, and the emergence of the internet has been a great advantage, especially during these times.

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Significance Of Finding A Vaccine Against Coronavirus

I can remember the first time I heard of the word “coronavirus” as if it only happened yesterday. I was grocery shopping back then, and I could not help but overhear a group of mothers expressing their worries about it.

One said, “The first case of coronavirus transmission was already recorded in our city. I don’t feel like letting my child come to school tomorrow.” The other mom agreed and uttered, “You’re right; the virus is too scary and deadly to take for granted.”

To no one’s surprise, the governor announced the new stay-at-home order that’s ruling over the entire state later that day. Every minor or senior individual cannot be seen anywhere out of the house; only adults can leave but only to get food or medical supplies.

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If I am honest, the quarantine did not make sense to me at first. I did not see its necessity; I assumed that it was merely flu season. But when my best friend’s sister called me and said that she’s fighting for her life due to COVID-19 and there’s no cure for it, things got serious fast.

Upon doing my research on the matter, I saw that the only way to end the pandemic is by finding a vaccine against coronavirus. How significant is it to achieve such a feat, you may ask?

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It Will Stop Virus Transmission

Let me give you a crash course on how a vaccine works.

  • Scientists create a vaccine by using tiny pieces of the coronavirus as one of its primary ingredients.
  • Before mass producing vaccines, they need to find a way to make the virus inactive. This way, it will not spread in the person’s body.
  • Over time, the body gets used to the virus and becomes immune to it.

When everyone receives a vaccine, no one needs to worry about virus transmission anymore. Every individual on the planet will technically have immunization against coronavirus, so it cannot be as deadly as we all know it.  

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People Will No Longer Die Due To COVID-19

It is unfortunate how there is still no drug that can be used to vaccinate people. Hundreds of thousands of lives have already been wasted across the globe because of COVID-19. If not for the governments’ bright idea of putting the countries under lockdown for at least a couple of months, the numbers may have undoubtedly blown exponentially.

Once a vaccine becomes available, there may only be a handful of individuals who may come down with COVID-19. After all, getting vaccinated is no guarantee that you will never have the disease—it is meant to reduce your chances of dealing with it. Some experts may even say that a vaccine may make the viral infection less severe, thus giving everyone a fighting chance against COVID-19.

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Everyone Can Live As Normally As Possible

The ultimate goal of finding a vaccine is to allow all of us to regain our regular lives. Doing so seems impossible, even when the number of cases appears to be going down. Although the countries may reopen, the likelihood of catching the coronavirus remains high without the antivirus in the market.

Now, in an ideal world where a vaccine exists, schools and businesses can be fully operational again. No one will fear to eat at restaurants, going to malls and parks, or chatting with neighbors on the streets. Life may be different for all because of what we have experienced during the pandemic, but we will no longer be stuck in the four corners of our homes.

Final Thoughts

It is both incredible and terrible to think that the fate of humanity depends on a single vaccine yet to be invented. As long as no one discovers the best formula to create it, we may need to stay isolated for an unforeseeable amount of time.

Experts In Mental Health Say We Need To Cope During The Pandemic

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My mother would not go out of her room. We, I and my sister, needed to bring her food three times a day and leave it by her door. The plate and utensils are also left there when she is done eating. She would text us if she needs something or would video call us to talk. Her agoraphobia is acting up at this time, and it is really bad.

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The Chemistry Of Depression – A Therapist Knows

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What Is The Biochemical Basis Of Depression?

We all know that chemical imbalance in the brain causes depression and other types of mental health disorders in the brain, and the medications alter these abnormalities by maintaining the right balance of these substances. That’s what a therapist would say to discuss it biochemically. This is also a very scientific explanation, and some of us might get confused. So what does chemical imbalance in the brain have to do with depression?

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Is Bioinformatics The Answer To End Genetic Diseases?

As experts in the fieldwork on unlocking the secrets of our human genome, they found out that almost all diseases have a genetic component.  Continuing their research, studying large numbers of biomolecular data advances their understanding of these genetic diseases hoping to find not just the cure, but an end to genetic disorders.

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What Is HOMA And How Has It Been Beneficial In The Treatment Of Diabetes?

Life on earth approximately existed 3.6 billion years up to the present. It’s biological processes continually evolve to sustain its habitat on earth. From plants, animals, bacteria, fungi, viruses, anything from which they have undergone homeostasis, even for a moment, is considered by scientists as life.  Life strived, evolved, lived, rose and fell? But how and why?

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