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Coronavirus research

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have used Summit, the world’s most powerful and smartest supercomputer, to identify 77 small-molecule drug compounds that might warrant further study in the fight against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which is responsible for the COVID-19 disease outbreak.

Scientists created a novel polymer that is as effective as natural proteins in transporting protons through a membrane. Credit: ORNL/Jill Hemman

Biological membranes, such as the “walls” of most types of living cells, primarily consist of a double layer of lipids, or “lipid bilayer,” that forms the structure, and a variety of embedded and attached proteins with highly specialized functions, including proteins that rapidly and selectively transport ions and molecules in and out of the cell.

The image visualizes how the team’s multitask convolutional neural network classifies primary cancer sites. Image credit: Hong-Jun Yoon/ORNL

As the second-leading cause of death in the United States, cancer is a public health crisis that afflicts nearly one in two people during their lifetime.

ORNL’s collaboration with Cincinati Children’s Hospital Medical Center will leverage the lab’s expertise in high-performance computing and safe, secure recordkeeping. Credit: Genevieve Martin/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Oak Ridge National Laboratory will partner with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to explore ways to deploy expertise in health data science that could more quickly identify patients’ mental health risk factors and aid in suicide prevention strategies.

Liane Russell

A select group gathered on the morning of Dec. 20 at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory for a symposium in honor of Liane B. Russell, the renowned ORNL mammalian geneticist who died in July.

Molecular dynamics simulations of the Fs-peptide revealed the presence of at least eight distinct intermediate stages during the process of protein folding. The image depicts a fully folded helix (1), various transitional forms (2–8), and one misfolded state (9). By studying these protein folding pathways, scientists hope to identify underlying factors that affect human health.

Using artificial neural networks designed to emulate the inner workings of the human brain, deep-learning algorithms deftly peruse and analyze large quantities of data. Applying this technique to science problems can help unearth historically elusive solutions.

Illustration of the intricate organization of the PKA structure, wherein different parts of the protein are connected through elaborate hydrogen bonding networks (dashed yellow lines), glued together by the hydrophobic assemblies (light blue and orange volumes)—all working together to build the functional active site. Insert shows protonation of the transferred phosphoryl group (cyan mesh) and its many interactions with water and the active site amino acid residues. Credit: Jill Hemman/ORNL

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., March 20, 2019—Direct observations of the structure and catalytic mechanism of a prototypical kinase enzyme—protein kinase A or PKA—will provide researchers and drug developers with significantly enhanced abilities to understand and treat fatal diseases and neurological disorders such as cancer, diabetes, and cystic fibrosis.

Neutron scattering allowed direct observation of how aurein induces lateral segregation in the bacteria membranes, which creates instability in the membrane structure. This instability causes the membranes to fail, making harmful bacteria less effective.

As the rise of antibiotic-resistant bacteria known as superbugs threatens public health, Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Shuo Qian and Veerendra Sharma from the Bhaba Atomic Research Centre in India are using neutron scattering to study how an antibacterial peptide interacts with and fights harmful bacteria.

(From left) ORNL Associate Laboratory Director for Computing and Computational Sciences Jeff Nichols; ORNL Health Data Sciences Institute Director Gina Tourassi; DOE Deputy Under Secretary for Science Thomas Cubbage; ORNL Task Lead for Biostatistics Blair Christian; and ORNL Research Scientist Ioana Danciu were invited to the White House to showcase an ORNL-developed digital tool aimed at better matching cancer patients with clinical trials.

OAK RIDGE, Tenn., March 4, 2019—A team of researchers from the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory Health Data Sciences Institute have harnessed the power of artificial intelligence to better match cancer patients with clinical trials.

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While studying the genes in poplar trees that control callus formation, scientists at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have uncovered genetic networks at the root of tumor formation in several human cancers.