Computers and protein folding

Arguably, the dynamics of protein folding is THE problem of modern mathematical biology. Here is a recent achievement:

http://www.nature.com/news/2010/101014/full/news.2010.541.html?s=news_rss

In short, a supercomputer is built that uses a physical model of atom interactions to model protein folding. This is great, of course, and really exiting, but here is an extract:

Simulating the basic pancreatic trypsin inhibitor over the course of a millisecond took Anton about 100 days

Which undoubtedly means that any numerical experiments with protein folding are beyond our reach. Yet? I believe that approach by brute force is the wrong one here. In a similar vein, as no one calculates pressure of a gas, using differential equations for all the molecules, but instead uses statistical physics to predict the average effects of random behavior, a completely new approach is needed to model the protein folding.

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About Artem Novozhilov

I am an applied mathematician interested in studying various evolutionary processes by means of mathematical models. More on my professional activities can be found on my page https://www.ndsu.edu/pubweb/~novozhil/
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