The White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is advancing Federally-funded research on COVID-19 including research using supercomputers to run simulations.

“American researchers are on the frontlines in the global fight against the coronavirus. We are seeing powerful examples of Federal research advancing our knowledge of virus structure, transmission, and other factors,” Director of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy Kelvin Droegemeier said. “It’s all hands on deck, and I’d like to thank our scientists, researchers, healthcare professionals, public-private partnerships, the academic community, and everyone involved in the U.S. research enterprise.”

Among Federally-funded research program include the University of Tennessee and Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers using a supercomputer to identify 77 small molecule drug compounds.

“Simulations were performed on more than 8,000 compounds to screen for those that are most likely to bind to the main protein of coronavirus, rendering it unable to infect host cells,” OSTP said. The White House had launched a COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium back in March. Oak Ridge National was among five Department of Energy (DOE) National Laboratories to join the consortium to advance research on a vaccine. Oak Ridge is also teaming with the National Institutes of Health and other DOE laboratories to study SARS-CoV-2 proteins.

Other research programs hailed by OSTP include:

  • The National Science Foundation (NSF) teaming with Stanford University to study how coronavirus behaves in the environment;
  • Case Western Reserve University and the Cleveland Clinic, funded by NSF, researching transmission patterns within a hospital setting;
  • The University of California-Irvine and NSF teaming to investigate “how the spike in protein of SARS-CoV-2 binds to receptors on cell membranes and undergoes conformational changes allowing the virus to enter human cells;”
  • NSF funding research at Bowling Green State University aimed at creating DNA aptamers to inhibit initial step of viral invasion into human host cells; and
  • DOE funding a study by the University of Chicago, Argonne National Laboratory, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine to “identify a potential drug target in a newly mapped protein of SARS-CoV-2.”
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Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith
Jordan Smith is a MeriTalk Senior Technology Reporter covering the intersection of government and technology.