How you can help speed up cancer research

UPDATE May 11, 2020

Further to the update on World Community Grid, I have established a team with the goal of promoting sarcoma research on World Community Grid. The team is called Sarcoma Smart. You can join the team here - World Community Grid.

UPDATE May 7, 2020

There is a better way to donate your PC's CPU cycles to cancer research - World Community Grid.

From their about page: "Started in 2004, World Community Grid is a philanthropic initiative of IBM Corporate Citizenship, the corporate social responsibility and philanthropy division of IBM. Through Corporate Citizenship, IBM donates its technology and talent to address some of the world's most pressing social and environmental issues."

World Community Grid can be run on PC and Android. I still recommend running DreamLab on your mobile as well.

UPDATE March 4, 2020

I eventually had to uninstall Bluestacks and rebuild my machine. Not sure what caused the problem, but the machine never worked quite the same after installing Bluestacks. So, in the end, I just wiped the machine and reinstalled W10...and didnt reinstall Bluestacks. I have stuck to using the phone for Dreamlab since.

October 23, 2018

Ever felt like you REALLY want to do something about finding a cure for cancer? Do you wish things would just happen faster?

Well, yes, I know that feeling as well.

The good news is there is a practical way you can play a hands on role in helping find a cure for cancer beyond just donating money (although donations are very important as well to many researchers!).

One of Australia's leading biomedical research institutes, the Garvan Institute, has developed an app called DreamLab (linked to Android version - which is fine even if you are running an Apple or Windows based desktop/laptop as you will see if you read on) that carries out calculations on genomic data that researchers use in their pursuit of cures for various diseases.

The problem this app solves is that data produced in genomic analysis is massive and requires A LOT of computing resources. By having people download this app to their phones, researchers can speed up the computational work by allocating small pieces of the work to all of the phones running the app. The more phones running the app, the faster the work gets done.

BUT WAIT, THERE IS MORE - THERE IS A BETTER WAY

Now, this is great BUT, a phone is still a phone (i.e. not as powerful as a desktop or many laptops) and the app only works while the phone is plugged in and being charged.

What if you could run the app on your desktop or laptop? The calculations should be completed at a much faster rate...(it did for me anyway - it may vary for you depending on your hardware and its configuration).

Well, I worked out a way to do that with the end result being that the rate of calculations completed is way way way more than the phone.

To put it in perspective, I am currently working on DreamLab's Project Demistify. My phone (Pixel 2XL) has crunched 178 calculations over a 20 day period (roughly 8 hours per day).

On the other hand, running the app in an android emulator on my Windows 10 notebook (ASUS G771) I have completed over 5,500 calculations in just 2 days! Obviously, this is highly hardware dependent and is also impacted by the other applications running on your machine at the same time.

HOW TO SET UP YOUR COMPUTER TO RUN DREAMLAB

Instructions here are based on exactly what I managed to work for me on an ASUS G771 notebook running Windows 10. I expect that it shouldn't be much different on any other device although I noted on another laptop some warning regarding suboptimal device configuration that required adjustment in the BIOS. But I am yet to address that 🤔.

STEP 1. Download Bluestacks - an android emulator that allows you to run android apps on your PC or Mac. Install it as you would normally install a new programme to your computer. If you get any warnings or difficulties - google them.

STEP 2. Once you have Bluestacks installed and running it will ask you to log in with your google account - just as you would if you bought a new android phone. Dont forget, this is an android emulator - it is running the same system software as if you bought a Samsung S8 (at least that is what it is running on my version as at October 23, 2018). So, you will get the usual google alerts in your email regarding detection of logging in to a new device with your account and confirming that it is you.

STEP 3. Open the Play Store app which is preinstalled on the emulator and search for DreamLab (created by Vodafone Foundation).

STEP 4. Install the app and run as if it were installed on your phone!

Remember, you need to run the emulator in order to run DreamLab. So look for the Bluestacks launch button when you look to restart your computer later.

Hopefully, that should all be pretty simple. And hopefully it helps speed up the discovery of a cure for cancer!

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