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Pharma tech company collaborates with Nvidia to fight COVID-19

Schrödinger is using Nvidia GPUs to speed up its efforts in finding coronavirus treatments

Nvidia's Quadro Virtual Workstation (QvWS)

Pharmaceutical molecule designer Schrödinger is using Nvidia’s graphics processing units to speed up its work.

Schrödinger is a scientific software company that runs a computing platform designed to accelerate drug discovery. It partners with the 20 biggest biopharma companies in the world.

With the pandemic still a threat, Schrödinger is collaborating with others in a global R&D effort to find solutions. The company announced this week that it is using Nvidia’s GPUs to generate and evaluate petabytes of data, which is dramatically faster than the traditional process of lab work.

The pharmaceutical industry has customarily invested billions of dollars to develop drugs, only to see the vast majority of them fail during or before clinical trials.

As Schrödinger sees it, the challenge has been that there’s not enough computing power to assess the potential pharmaceutical properties of all possible molecules.

“There may be more potential drug compounds than there are atoms in the universe,” Schrödinger’s chief technology officer, Patrick Lorton, said on Nvidia’s company blog. “If you look at a billion molecules and you say there’s no good drug here, it’s the same as looking at a drop of water in the ocean and saying fish don’t exist.”

Based in New York, Schrödinger operates a physics-based software platform designed to model and compute the properties of novel molecules for the pharma and materials industries. 

“We hope to develop an antiviral therapeutic for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in time to have treatments available for future waves of the pandemic,” Lorton said. 

The coronavirus pandemic illustrates the need for a more efficient and effective drug discovery process. To that end, the company has joined the global COVID R&D alliance to offer resources and collaborate. Recently, Google Cloud has also thrown its weight behind this alliance, donating over 16 million hours of NVIDIA GPU time to hunt for a cure.

Nvidia previously announced that it was joining the digital coronavirus fight by providing the COVID-19 High-Performance Computing Consortium with its expertise in AI, biology, and large-scale computing optimizations. NVIDIA is also providing the consortium with access to its SaturnV supercomputer.

The COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium is a private-public effort led by the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, the US Department of Energy, and IBM. By bringing together federal government, industry, and academic leaders, consortium members can provide unfettered access to many of the world’s most powerful high-performance computing resources to support COVID-19 research.

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