2015 Skolnik Award Announced

The American Chemical Society Division of Chemical Information is pleased to announce Prof. Dr. Jürgen Bajorath as the recipient of 2015 Herman Skolnik Award. The award recognizes outstanding contributions to and achievements in the theory and practice of chemical information science and related disciplines. The prize consists of a $3,000 honorarium and a plaque. Prof. Bajorath will also be invited to present an award symposium at the Fall 2015 ACS National Meeting to be held in Boston, MA.

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Bajorath is a world leader in the development and application of cheminformatics and computational solutions to research problems in medicinal chemistry, chemical biology, and the life sciences and has done pioneering work in the area of compound data analysis in chemistry. He is widely recognized for his seminal and prolific research work in molecular similarity analysis and ligand-based virtual screening, fingerprint engineering and advanced machine learning techniques, application of information theoretic concepts to cheminformatics, large-scale graphical analysis and visualization of structure-activity relationships, big data analysis in chemistry, and evaluation of SAR information in medicinal chemistry project progression in novel ways. Bajorath has been active in several areas of scientific enquiry and development that have all helped shape some of the fundamental research issues in chemical information science. Some of these areas include:

  • Algorithms to navigate high-dimensional chemical space representations in search of novel active compounds
  • Molecular fingerprints for similarity searching that are not affected by molecular complexity and size effects and that are directed against specific compound classes
  • Methods for the estimation of recall rates in virtual screening and database rankings
  • Prediction of structure-activity characteristics of compound data sets
  • Approaches for the analysis of selectivity differences between ligands of members of target protein families and the identification of selective compounds
  • Compound data mining and molecular promiscuity analysis
  • Activity landscape modeling and systematic exploration of activity cliffs
  • Various novel visualization methods for analysis of structure-activity relationships.

Bajorath obtained his diploma (M.S.) and Ph.D. degrees (under Wolfram Saenger, 1988) in biochemistry from the Free University West-Berlin. After postdoctoral work with Arnie Hagler at Biosym in San Diego focusing on DFT calculations on enzyme-inhibitor complexes, he joined Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) and spent seven years at the BMS Pharmaceutical Research Institute in Seattle where he became a Principal Scientist. During his years at BMS, Bajorath worked on protein modeling and structure-based design projects and developed his interests in bio- and chemoinformatics research.

After leaving BMS, he was involved in starting a biotech company (New Chemical Entities) that ultimately became the AMRI Bothell Research Center. In 1995, he was appointed Affiliate Associate and later Full Professor of Biological Structure at the University of Washington where he developed strong academic ties.

In 2004, after 16 years in the US, he was appointed Full Professor and Chair of Life Science Informatics at the University of Bonn, Germany. He continues to be affiliated with the University of Washington and has also been an invited professor at the University of Strasbourg, France.

Bajorath currently serves as an Associate Editor of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry and is also on several editorial boards (including, among others, Drug Discovery Today, Expert Opinion in Drug Discovery, Chemical Biology and Drug Design, Molecular Diversity, and Molecular Informatics) and various scientific advisory boards.

He received the Novartis Chemistry Lectureship Award and was appointed as a F1000 Faculty Member to the Drug Discovery and Design Section.

Jürgen Bajorath has been a dominant force in the fields of cheminformatics, big data analysis, and computational chemistry. He has published more than 450 papers in several prestigious journals, and 4 books and holds 25 issued patents. Some programs and databases that are a result of his scientific research work have been placed in the public domain including SARANEA, an open-source Java application for interactive exploration of structure-activity and structure-selectivity relationships.

Andrea Twiss-Brooks, Chair, CINF Awards Committee