Forbes blogger Tom Groenfeldt ordinarily writes about financial technology, but the worlds of hedge fund technology and computational biochemistry collide in David Shaw, founder of D.E. Shaw fund and, since 2002, of D.E. Shaw Research. Apparently, Shaw reached his 50th birthday and decided he did not like where life was taking him. So, he founded the computational biotech company to pursue what he loved.
Groenfeldt writes that D.E. Shaw Research has grown to more than 70 researchers working with 16 supercomputers used to simulate molecular dynamics in individual proteins and in larger macromolecular complexes. While computer simulation won't replace biological experiments, it can offer a view "at level of spatial and temporal detail inaccessible through experiment alone," Groenfeldt writes.
A computer named Anton is the star of the show. Anton can run simulations at the atomic level for periods of a millisecond. The time frames in biology make high frequency trading look tame, he says. One of the center's reports notes that "The highest atomic vibrational frequencies limit each time step to a few femtoseconds, such that simulating even a microsecond requires nearly a billion sequential time steps..."
D.E. Shaw Research's web site indicates that it takes a virtual village to create this kind of computing power. Members of the lab include computational chemists and biologists, computer scientists and applied mathematicians, and computer architects and engineers, all working collaboratively.