CASP: An International Protein Structure Experiment
Deriving protein structures from genomic sequence data is
the major challenge of contemporary computational biology.
Genes are the blueprints for proteins, and the next step in
harnessing the flood of data from genome research is using
it to deduce the 3-D structure of proteins. For practical
purposes, these problems are insoluble without advanced
software and powerful computers.
Among research groups worldwide, many methods have arisen.
CASP (Critical Assessment of Techniques for Protein
Structure Prediction) is a community-wide experiment held
every two years to assess these various computational
approaches. "Through CASP," says PSC biochemist David
Deerfield, "the field moves toward consensus on such
questions as which methods are most accurate, which most
cost-effective, where can future effort most effectively be
This year PSC and the Hewlett-Packard Company teamed to
provide large-scale computational resources for CASP5, the
fifth convening of this every-other-year event, for which
participation has steadily grown to nearly 200 research
groups worldwide. HP provided computing time on a
100-processor cluster of AlphaServer systems, and PSC made
time available on LeMieux, PSC's terascale AlphaServer-based