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  • Writer's pictureSmartBit

Our Association for Distributed Computing in support of Medical Research

Data Mining For Health is SmartBit's non-profit organization founded in collaboration with the Folding@Home project and with the support of Nordic Data Centers, dedicated to enabling companies and individuals to voluntarily contribute to medical research through Distributed Computing.


The idea to help the research community in a concrete way was born during the first wave of the Sars-CoV-2 pandemic in Italy, between March and May 2020. With the help of our long-time partner Nordic Data Centers, we quickly identified what would be a way to actively contribute during this unprecedented crisis.

Our thoughts went to Distributed Computing.

This technology is a field of computer science that studies distributed systems, i.e. systems that consist of numerous autonomous computers that interact/communicate with each other over a network in order to achieve a common goal (software running in a distributed system is called a distributed program, and distributed programming is the process of writing such software).

A typical example of application of distributed computing is the use of distributed systems to solve computational problems of a certain complexity, such as those to be faced during scientific research in the healthcare sector: in this context a problem is divided in turn into many subtasks each of which is solved by a single computer.

With the foundation of the Association we help distributed computing projects for research centers with large amounts of additional computing power, with the support of the latest hardware provided by our voluntary members (companies or individuals).

In particular, we support the Folding@home project by spreading it among the most relevant realities, which would have the potential to contribute without being aware of it yet.

Computing power today is a valuable asset that can, without effort by those who own the hardware, be really essential to contribute to the creation and discovery of new treatment methodologies, continuously explored by universities and research centers around the world.


Folding@home (sometimes abbreviated as FAH or F@h) is a project that uses distributed computing to simulate and study various phenomena, such as protein folding, drug design, and other types of molecular dynamics.

The project uses the unused computing power of thousands of PCs owned by volunteers, who have decided to install and run special software on their own computers.

Its main purpose is to determine the mechanisms of protein folding, which is the process by which proteins reach their final three-dimensional structure, and to examine the causes that lead to misfolding of proteins.

The latter phenomenon is of considerable interest in medical research, as it already has direct implications on many pathologies such as Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease and many forms of cancer, as well as other diseases.

To a lesser extent, Folding@home also seeks to predict the final structure of a protein and determine how other molecules will interact with it, an activity that is very useful for drug research.

Folding@home is developed and managed by the Pande lab at Stanford University, under the direction of Professor Vijay Pande, and is shared by various scientific institutions and research laboratories around the world.

The project pioneered the use in distributed computing of video cards and gaming consoles, most notably the PlayStation 3. The simulation methodology employed, based on statistics, represents a paradigm shift from traditional computational approaches.

The software running on the volunteers' computers connects to a project server, receives a small fragment (work unit) of a complete simulation, performs the required calculations on this fragment and returns the result to the server, where the work units are assembled into the complete simulation.

Volunteers can track their contributions on the Folding@home website in the form of a score based on the total work done, which makes volunteer participation competitive and encourages long-term involvement.

Folding@home is one of the fastest computing systems in the world, running at over 100 petaFLOPS, which is more powerful than all projects running on the BOINC distributed computing platform combined.

The project was also the most powerful molecular dynamics simulator in the world until mid-2011. These features have allowed for much more complex and time-consuming simulations than previously achieved with traditional computing facilities.

Since its launch on October 1, 2000, the Pande lab has produced 109 scientific research articles based on the Folding@home activity. Experimental tests subsequently performed agree with the results of the simulations.


As an Association, we try to leverage our network to spread information about these modalities.

Our goal is to make more private realities or companies contribute to these processes, accompanying them in the awareness and discovery of a method as simple as effective.

To be an active part of our initiative is very simple: just access this page and proceed to download and install the dedicated client, compatible with your operating system.

Data Mining For Health section:


For further information about the project or the configuration of the client in more complex systems you can contact the association at


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