Brown University School of Engineering

ICERM Public Lecture: Crowd Computing: Scientific discoveries by protein-folding game players

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Tuesday, March 13, 2018 6:30pm - 6:30pm
Brown ICERM, 121 South Main Street, 11th Floor Lecture Hall

Can the brainpower of humans worldwide be brought to bear on critical problems posed in computational biology, such as the structure determination of proteins and designing novel enzymes? Yes! Citizen scientists—most of whom have little or no prior biochemistry experience—have uncovered knowledge that eluded scientists for years. Players of the online protein folding video game Foldit have contributed to several scientific discoveries through gameplay. Rather than solving problems with a purely computational approach, combining humans and computers can provide a means for solving problems neither could solve alone. ABOUT THE SPEAKER: Firas Khatib is an Assistant Professor in the Computer and Information Science Department at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. He received his bachelor's degree in Applied Mathematics from UC Berkeley in 2001, and his Ph.D. in Bioinformatics from UC Santa Cruz in 2008. Prior to joining UMass Dartmouth, he was a Senior Fellow in the Molecular Engineering & Sciences Institute at the University of Washington. Firas has been the lead scientist of Foldit, a video game that has allowed hundreds of thousands of players to contribute to biochemical scientific research. The long term goal of this project is to utilize the combined power of humans and computers in order to build accurate models of disease-related proteins.