Here’s something awesome and oh-so-important considering our current global environment: Education technology that can help lead to preventative care.
That’s why we’re loving FoldIt, a non-profit, revolutionary scientific discovery game run by research scientists from universities all across the United States.
In this week’s podcast, Huzefa speaks with Brian Koepnick, lead scientist for Foldit, regarding the pivotal role proteins play in our ability to comprehend and combat infectious diseases. Koepnick and the incredible crew at Foldit have designed a crowdsourced puzzle game where players are required to fold proteins into realistic, physically-plausible structures, often with tangible, real-life results.
“There’s a vast space of solutions,” Koepnick said. “There are too many different solutions for us to enumerate on a computer. So we rely on the intuition and spatial reasoning of humans, of game players. You don’t have to know anything about biochemistry or proteins — all of that is taken care of by the game. You just have to learn the basic tools and how to use them, and you can become an effective player.”
Foldit players continue to contribute ideas for HIV/AIDS, cancer, Alzheimer’s and, most recently, COVID19 research. They’ve also been responsible for creating new proteins from scratch, redesigning an existing protein enzyme and discovering an algorithm for how to fold proteins.
Koepnick says Foldit players possess an innate ability to “focus on big-picture problems.”
Huzefa sees a fantastic opportunity for savvy young minds to participate in Foldit games and truly test themselves in the world of scientific research and problem solving.
“Students have a chance to get involved in the process,” he says, “and actually contribute real solutions. It’s just mind-blowing what they do.”
The full conversation with Brian Koepnick can be accessed below.
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