JADE AI supercomputing facility supports efforts in development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine

Facility being used for efforts in development of a vaccine, anti-viral drugs and understanding the molecular architecture of the virus

The JADE national AI supercomputing facility is being used by researchers from the universities of Oxford, Cambridge and Southampton working in the area of biomolecular simulations, to support efforts in the development of a vaccine against SARS-CoV-2 and anti-viral drugs, and to better understand the molecular architecture of the virus and how it functions.

SARS-CoV-2 is the severe acute respiratory syndrome that causes the infectious disease COVID-19, which has resulted in the worldwide pandemic. Knowledge of virus dynamics are essential to formulate strategies for antiviral treatment, vaccination, and epidemiological control. The JADE supercomputer, owned by the University of Oxford, is managed by IT services company Atos and is hosted at the Hartree Centre, part of the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC).

The JADE consortium is led by the Oxford e-Research Centre (Department of Engineering Science), with Professor Wes Armour the Principal Investigator. JADE is unique amongst the Tier 2 centres in being designed for the needs of machine learning and related data science applications. There has been huge growth in machine learning in the last 5 years, and JADE is also used by world-leading machine learning groups in Oxford, Edinburgh, KCL, QMUL, Sheffield and UCL and by researchers at The Alan Turing Institute.

Earlier in 2020 the JADE consortium won funding for High Performance Computing in JADE 2, a unique national computing facility dedicated to research in AI, Machine Learning and Molecular Dynamics. This will build on the success of the current JADE HPC resource and is funded by a £5.5 million grant from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). JADE 2 will advance computational drug design for therapeutics targeting a large variety of health conditions and assist with designing components of DNA/RNA sequencing devices. Together JADE 1 and 2 will form the de-facto national AI computing facility in the UK, supporting over £0.5B of UK funded research.

The JADE consortium partners are the universities of Bath, Bristol, Cambridge, Exeter, Lancaster, Leeds, Loughborough, Sheffield, Southampton, Surrey, Warwick and York, Queen Mary University of London, King’s College London, Imperial College London, UCL, Newcastle University, The Alan Turing Institute, Science and Technology Facilities Council laboratories.