2016 Herman Skolnik Award Announced

The American Chemical Society Division of Chemical Information is pleased to announce that Stephen Bryant and Evan Bolton have been selected to receive the 2016 Herman Skolnik Award for their work on developing, maintaining, and expanding the web-based NIH/NLM/NCBI PubChem database and related software capabilities and analytic tools to enhance the scientific discovery process. 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. Drs. Bryant and Bolton will also be invited to present an award symposium at the fall 2016 ACS National Meeting to be held in Philadelphia, PA.

ImageStephen H. Bryant received his B.A. in chemistry and english from the University of Virginia, and then completed a Ph.D. in biophysics at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, where he studied protein crystallography. He did postgraduate work at Johns Hopkins University Schools of Medicine and of Hygiene and Public Health, followed by a stint at Brookhaven National Laboratory working on the Protein Data Bank (PDB). Bryant then spent some time in upstate New York as a Research Scientist, Wadsworth Center for Laboratories and Research, New York State Department of Health, and Assistant Professor, Department of Biomedical Sciences, School of Public Health, State University of New York at Albany before going to the National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health as a Senior Investigator.

ImageEvan Bolton received a B.S. in chemistry from Rider College in Lawrenceville, New Jersey and a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Georgia. He held positions as a computational scientist at American Cyanamid and IRL, Inc. before becoming a consultant who led the creation, use, and management of computer applications to manage scientific data. At first under contract to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) to work on the PubChem project, Bolton joined the NCBI staff as Lead Scientist in 2004.

The awarding of the 2016 Herman Skolnik Award to Bryant and Bolton recognizes the significant contribution of the creation of the necessary computer and software systems to make PubChem information (a database of small molecules and biological activity information) easily web-accessible to biomedical researchers. Under Bryant and Bolton’s leadership, the PubChem team has created a world-class resource for chemical and biological information. PubChem is the first major public database to connect cheminformatics to bioinformatics and thereby provide a unique information resource for pharmaceutical research.

From its beginning, PubChem’s overriding goal has been to provide comprehensive information on the biological properties of small molecules. Since 2004, PubChem has grown to 196 million chemical substance records, encompassing 68 million unique compounds. It has been a demonstration of a public and private cooperation that has benefited the entire scientific community in collecting and integrating resources, as demonstrated by collaborations with over 250 academic and commercial organizations who have contributed records to PubChem. Biological screening results are available from over 1.1 million bioassay screens for over 3.1 million tested substances. Every day, tens of thousands of researchers from university labs, as well as pharmaceutical and biotech companies access PubChem in their drug discovery efforts.

Bryant and Bolton have provided important leadership for the PubChem project. Bryant is guided by an overarching vision of data integration, and in particular his focus on adding the third dimension to chemical structure searches, likely guided by his early experience in structural biology and crystallography. Bolton has had a consistent eye and focus on engineering and design, and has shared his insight and expertise with others in the field, especially with the intricacies of building highly robust chemical registration systems.

Bryant and Bolton are also cited as lucid and determined advocates not only for PubChem, but also for cheminformatics and chemical sciences in general. They are valued among their colleagues, having worked with other projects such as ChEMBL (http://www.ebi.ac.uk/chembl) at EMBL-EBI, an open medicinal chemistry data resource and on the ChEBI (http://www.ebi.ac.uk/chebi) chemical ontology database.

Andrea Twiss-Brooks, Chair, CINF Awards Committee