Arstechnica has an interesting article about protein folding problems being solved by a combination of brute-force software and human pattern recognition in the form of a computer game . Here is a link to the primary source which also mentions the fact that players can design their own proteins which could potentially cure some diseases .
This is very similar to Garry Kasparov’s observations about ideal methods for playing chess given computers and humans .
It is also similar to Jane McGoningal’s ideas about using online gaming to make a better world  which inspired my post about choosing a free software mission .
What other serious problems can we solve via computer games and screen-savers?
-  http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2010/08/gamers-beat-algorithms-for-finding-protein-structures.ars
-  http://fold.it/portal/info/science
-  http://www.nybooks.com/articles/23592
-  http://www.ted.com/talks/jane_mcgonigal_gaming_can_make_a_better_world.html
-  http://etbe.coker.com.au/2010/03/27/free-software-mission/