DOE Uses National Laboratories to Build Consortium to Combat the CVOID-19 Pandemic

Mar 30, 2020

by ASME.org

The Department of Energy (DOE) is putting its resources behind an all-of-government approach to combat the spread of CVOID-19 and has recently launched a Task Force to coordinate its resources. Specifically, DOE’s 17 national laboratories are using their tools to help analyze the virus and how it spreads. Scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) are using artificial intelligence and machine learning along with bioinformatics and supercomputing to uncover new antibodies and drugs to combat the disease, while researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory using tools to help calculate how social isolation, travel bans, and face masks work to counter the spread of the virus so that lawmakers can be best informed when coming up with policy solutions.

DOE national laboratories are not alone in this effort. They are partnering with the National Science Foundation (NSF), NASA, private companies like IBM, and many other entities to combine supercomputing capabilities that have allowed the world’s most powerful supercomputer to examine more than 700,000 viral genomes, prompting researchers to identify 77 drug compounds that may curb the spread of the virus—a process that would have taken a normal computer months to accomplish.

DOE is also encouraging scientists to submit ideas for using DOE tools to research COVID-19. In a recent release, DOE states that “while the DOE itself does not fund medical or clinical work, our facilities complement the efforts of the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and other federal partners in understanding the basic phenomena underlying the outbreak. We want to ensure the scientists confronting this disease have comprehensive access to both our tools and our subject matter expertise.”

DOE’s Office of Science will receive $99.5 million as part of the economic stimulus package signed into law last week to combat both the health and economic effects of coronavirus.

For more information on how DOE is addressing the threat of coronavirus, please visit: https://www.energy.gov/science/office-science.

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