2018 Herman Skolnik Award Announced

Dr. Gisbert SchneiderThe American Chemical Society Division of Chemical Information is pleased to announce that Gisbert Schneider, ETH Zurich, Switzerland has been selected to receive the 2018 Herman Skolnik Award for his seminal contributions to de novo design of bioactive compounds and the application of these innovative design concepts in both academia and industry. 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 Dr Schneider will also be invited to present an award symposium at the fall 2018 ACS National Meeting to be held in Boston.

Prof Dr Schneider is a full professor at ETH Zurich, holding the Chair for Computer-Assisted Drug Design. Over the last 25 years he has worked in a variety of areas in cheminformatics and computational molecular design. He is recognized as being a pioneer in the integration of machine-learning methods into practical medicinal chemistry, and for his coining the phrases ‘scaffold-hopping’ and ‘frequent hitter’. His career has led him from the pharmaceuticals division at Roche to academia, initially to the Goethe-University in Frankfurt where he held the Beilstein Endowed Chair for Chem- and Bioinformatics, and then to his current position at ETH in Zurich. He is an elected Fellow of the University of Tokyo, and an Adjunct Professor at Goethe-University. He has co-founded several start-up companies including inSili.com GmbH, AlloCyte Pharmaceuticals AG, and Endogena Therapeutics Inc.

His current research interests focus on the development of methods for adaptive autonomous systems in drug research. Current projects include developing, implementing and experimentally validating these innovative concepts in applied settings, including:

  • Virtual screening by active learning
  • Constructive de novo molecular design methods
  • Macromolecular target profiling and polypharmacology
  • Self-organizing systems for molecular pattern recognition.

His research group develops and applies these often nature-inspired algorithms to virtual compound screening, drug re-purposing and deorphaning, in silico polypharmacology and chemogenomics projects, protein structure analysis and the design of allosteric and natural-product-derived ligands.

The awarding of the 2018 Herman Skolnik Award to Schneider recognizes his significant contributions to the fields of cheminformatics and in silico molecular design methods. His nomination discussed his broad contributions to the field including:

  • Automated reaction-based de novo design for rapid lead prototyping
  • Conception of multi-objective adaptive fitness landscapes for library design
  • Development of ligand- and structure-based methods for identifying macromolecular targets of pharmaceutically active compounds.

Schneider’s early research resulted in the invention and coining of computational peptide design by adaptive optimization, using neural networks and evolutionary algorithms. These seminal studies laid the foundation for ‘artificially intelligent’ molecular design. His more recent work pursues innovative machine-learning models for target and similarity prediction in automated hit and lead discovery, bridging the chemical and biological worlds. Schneider's name is found on the Thomson Reuters list of the 'World's Most Influential Scientific Minds'. His inspirational studies are documented in over 400 publications and six books.

Schneider is also cited for his contributions to our field. He was a founding editor of the journal Molecular Informatics, and serves as a reviewer for many top-ranking journals including Nature, Science, and Angewandte Chemie. He has also been very active in teaching and his efforts have been recognized by the students at ETH by winner of the “Golden Owl” award for outstanding faculty teaching.

David Evans, Chair, ACS Division of Chemical Information Awards Committee