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Running a charitable foundation in a time of diminished resources is a constant challenge. At the Foundation Against Cancer, our mission includes both funding medical research in search of new cures and supporting those persons currently challenged by the disease. Over the years, the need for both types of assistance we offer has continued to grow. By the end of 2014, for instance, we expect to have offered €16 million in grants to Belgian scientists – an increase of 28 percent compared to what we provided in 2012. And we will have launched twice as many initiatives to provide health information and deliver assistance to patients and their families as compared to just a few years ago.

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We have been focused so intently on supporting the communities we serve that we haven’t had time to build the very information technology capacities and competencies that would enable us to be even more effective. That’s why we felt so fortunate for the opportunity to engage with IBM to develop a roadmap for meeting our current and future IT challenges.

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Wim_DegraveTorsten_Thomas by Wim Degrave and Torsen Thomas

To kick-start its 10th anniversary celebrations, World Community Grid is partnering with the University of New South Wales in Australia and the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz in Brazil) in their research to better understand DNA and proteins – uncovering the hidden superpowers of the natural world. In the article below, the principal investigators of the Uncovering Genome Mysteries project share their thoughts on the program’s tremendous potential and the essential role that World Community Grid will play.

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Our understanding of life on earth has grown enormously since the advent of genetic research. A decade ago, the Human Genome Project added humans to the list of a
dozen organisms whose genomes had been completely sequenced. Today’s rapid
DNA sequencing technologies have decoded the genomes of thousands of additional organisms, including many microorganisms that previously could not be studied via conventional methods.

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Why is the study of microorganisms so crucial? Microorganisms control a huge variety of natural processes involved in human health, food production, agriculture and aquaculture. They have been developed into antibiotics and other medicines, used to clean water in sewage treatment plants and deployed to mop up oil spills.

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As we observe World Food Day on October 16th, more than 800 million people will be hungry. And it’s not just this one day. Every single day, in every corner of the world, one out of every nine people lacks adequate food to eat.

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At the same time, more than one-third of all food produced for human consumption is wasted. Instead of filling a hungry stomach, much of this food goes to landfill, where it immediately begins to produce methane gas, a greenhouse gas with more than 26 times the heat-trapping capacity of carbon dioxide. Greenhouse gas damages our water supply, land, and air – thus substantially harming this and future generations.

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Mayors are using data and analytics as the basis of collaboration with nonprofits, local agencies and others to improve the quality of life for city residents. Addressing such essential issues as health care delivery and public safety in an era of diminishing resources requires a smarter approach to identifying and making use of actionable information.

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At this week’s IBM THINK Forum in New York City, leaders from around the world will gather to discuss the transformational convergence of government services and big data. Tune in to the IBM THINK Forum on October 8 and 9 to discover how big data is helping decision makers engage with the people they serve.

Read “Cities at Forefront of Using Technology and Data to Solve Problems

Myung J. Lee is Executive Director of Cities of Service, a coalition of nearly 200 cities whose mayors are committed to using volunteer service to solve local pressing challenges.

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October 1st, 2014
13:28
 

On Saturday, September 20th, I had the opportunity to meet a special group of new students at Richard J. Daley College, one of the City Colleges of Chicago. These students came in on a Saturday to learn about the Daley College community and the resources available to support them on their educational journey.

The author addresses the Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy convocation in Chicago

The author addresses the Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy convocation in Chicago

What distinguishes this group 100+ students is the fact that they do not yet have a high school diploma. They are taking courses at Daley College while enrolled in Sarah E. Goode STEM Academy, one of five Early College STEM Schools created through partnerships among the Chicago Public Schools, City Colleges of Chicago, and five technology companies led by IBM – creator of the P-TECH grades 9 through 14 schools model. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel launched the Early College STEM High Schools in 2012 based on recommendations from an IBM Smarter Cities Challenge partnership with the City.

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September 26th, 2014
8:00
 

Perth – Australia’s most westerly capital city – is known for its sunshine, its natural beauty and its relaxed pace. With an estimated population of a little over 1.97 million, Perth is Australia’s fourth most populous region and is growing rapidly. And that growth requires a strong and considered strategy for city development.

The IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Perth team with the Lord Mayor of Perth and Council project sponsors

The IBM Smarter Cities Challenge Perth team with the Lord Mayor of Perth and Council project sponsors

To ensure that we provide the best possible services to our citizens now and well into the future, it was clear to us that Perth needed to be smarter in the way we collated, distributed, accessed and used key infrastructure data. Transport, water, energy and other infrastructure utilities need to be in sync with each other for us to be able to plan and use resources in a valuable and efficient way.

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American students generally lose about two months’ worth of grade-level learning equivalency over the summer months. This summer learning loss is especially problematical among low-income children, who often lack access to learning opportunities outside of school. That’s why Camp Fire actively engages children in central Texas through our Camp Fire Summer Camp. Our goal is to expose children to STEM disciplines such as environmental science, biology, physics and engineering in an environment that’s instructive and fun. We want to help ensure that a child’s summer break from school isn’t a break
from learning.

Camp Fire Kids engaging with IBM Watson

Camp Fire Kids engaging with IBM Watson

This summer, IBM invited our young campers to participate in the refinement of leading IBM Watson technology that will enable computers to respond to children’s verbal cues – essentially allowing children to converse with and learn from computers using natural language. IBM Watson technology was developed to analyze unstructured data, so getting unadulterated input from our summer campers was a great way to teach Watson about how children think, and how to communicate with them.

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The Sankara Eye Institutions provide comprehensive eye care to the rural and urban poor across India. Every week, our outreach teams of physicians and paramedics visit slum areas as far as 400 kilometres (249 miles) from our hospital to identify patients in need of treatment for surgically curable eye diseases. We provide the treatment and post-operative follow up as part of our mission to reach across the cultural, geographical and socio-economic divides that rob nearly six million Indians each year of their eyesight.

Shanthi, our one millionth patient

Shanthi, our one millionth patient

Eighty percent of our patients receive their care free of charge as part of our nearly 40-year endeavor that has brought light and color to more than one million people. Over the last year alone, Sankara Eye Institutions screened more than 357,000 patients and helped nearly 141,000 people regain their sight and dignity. Our “Rainbow” pediatric program evaluated more than 270,000 children last year, and helped more than 5,000 of them avoid a sightless future. Overall, our community outreach programs have touched more than 67 million Indians across nine states.

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The 20th International AIDS Conference in Melbourne, Australia is the premier gathering for those working in the field of HIV, including scientists, medical practitioners, activists, policymakers, people living with HIV and others committed to ending the epidemic. IBM, a conference sponsor, is committed to applying its talent and technology to advance the fight against HIV/AIDS through philanthropic initiatives such as World Community Grid, which enables individuals to donate their unused computing power to advance cutting-edge scientific research on health, poverty and sustainability.

In the article below, Scripps Research Institute researcher Dr. Arthur Olson shares an update on how World Community Grid is helping his team develop therapies – and a potential cure – for AIDS.

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The Scripps Research Institute’s FightAIDS@Home initiative is a large-scale computational research project whose goal is to use our knowledge of the molecular biology of the AIDS virus HIV to help defeat the AIDS epidemic. We rely on IBM’s World Community Grid to provide massive computational power donated by people around the world to speed our research. The “virtual supercomputer” of World Community Grid enables us to model the known atomic structures of HIV molecules to help us design new drugs that could disrupt the function of these molecules. World Community Grid is an essential tool in our quest to understand and subvert the HIV virus’s ability to infect, spread and develop resistance to drug therapies.

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Since the early 1980s – when AIDS was first recognized as a new epidemic and a serious threat to human health – our ability to combat the HIV virus has evolved. Using what we call “structure-based drug discovery,” researchers have been able to use information about HIV’s molecular component to design drugs to defeat it. Critical to this process has been our ability to develop and deploy advanced computational models to help us predict how certain chemical compounds could affect the HIV virus. The development of our AutoDock modelling application – combined with the computational power of World Community Grid – represents a significant breakthrough in our ability to fight HIV.

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How can a fast growing NGO increase its employees’ project management skills while simultaneously initiating two IT projects? IBM in Switzerland provided the answer via an Impact Grant for Project Management.

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Our organization – Tischlein deck dich – is an apolitical and non-denominational NGO that feeds the hungry with reclaimed food. Industry, major distributors, farmers and retail donate their excess food, and we distribute it nationwide to people affected by poverty. In 2013 alone, we collected and distributed more than 2.5 million kilograms of food (worth more than USD$12.5 million) to more than 13,000 people each week.

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